Forest Flowers

Sam and I locked Daisy( the dinghy) to a palm tree and decorated it with leaves and flowers. It was an offering of protection, because people had lost dinghies to the hands of thieves on that shore in Hanalei Bay. But that can happen on any shore. 

We made our way to the Na Pali Coast State Park in search of a waterfall that people said was a “Godly experience.” The park has a coastal path that dips through forests, drops down to beaches, and climbs up towards waterfalls. Rivers criss cross the path along the way and the trail is covered in mud and fallen guava. The sweet smell of that tropical fruit surrounds each step. 

The trail is called Kalalau and is one of the most beautiful and dangerous hikes in the world. Heavy rains turn the path into a steep and slippery trap. And the rains make the rivers rise and rage and ramble, until they move like cheetahs, until their rocks become claws, until they cause humans crossing them to fall.

It had rained hard that entire weekend, but we went hiking anyway. Our first stop was at a beach two miles into the forest. There we watched a muddy river rush into the blue waves of the coast- the blood of each body of water mixing like paint on a canvas. Then we crossed that river and headed back into the forest towards the waterfall.

In the forest we saw; flying insects with eight wings, tiny white mushrooms, purple flowers, coconuts, green geckos climbing trees, moss, bamboo, frogs jumping into dusk, hala trees, and pincone ginger plants. 

Pinecone ginger has bright red conical flowers that are molded by the golden ratio. Another name for this plant is shampoo ginger, because you can squeeze the cone to create a sweet smelling soap. I bathed my body in the juice of that ginger all throughout that forest, until I realized it was a mosquito magnet. I had bites on my legs, arms, face, and butt. I scratched and walked and scratched and walked and scratched and moaned.

Hala trees are awesome to look at. Some people call them Tahitian screwpines. Their branches twist and turn and they look like soft little palm trees at the top. Hawaiians used their leaves to make canoe sails and their flowers to make love. 

 A pala ka hala, ‘ula ka ‘a‘i, “When the hala is ripe, necks are red,” Literal translation means, “the time is right for lovemaking.”

The blossom of the Hala, h?nano, is an aphrodisiac. The h?nano flower was picked by a girl who chased the boy of her fancy and beat him on the head with it. The pollen covered his head and made him fall in love with her. Girls would also collect the pollen to make liquid love potions. Ooh la la!

Could love be as easy as beating a boy over the head with a flower and surreptitiously feeding him pollen? Out in the country, I think so. 

One of the coolest things we saw was in that forest was a coconut tree beginning to sprout out of a fallen coconut. Coconuts were brought to Hawaii by the Polynesians and planted around the islands. 

My favorite mythology surrounding coconuts comes from the Cook Islands. It is a love story between Hina and an eel. Hina is the goddess of the moon and rider of fish. She has long flowing hair the color of night and bronzed skin that glows in the shadows of light. Her head is laced in flowers and she smells like the perfume of summer. 

One day Hina was bathing in an aquamarine pool, when of its depths rose a giant eel. The eel swam towards her and touched the nape of her neck. Every day she bathed, the eel came and touched her.  

After many days of teasing, the eel came and finally shed its eel costume. Standing before Hina was a handsome young man named Te Tuna (the Eel). Hina and Te Tuna became lovers. Their love was raw and powerful. He was a bee gathering her nectar until that pool dripped with their honey. Then he morphed back into an eel and swam away. 

Their affair went on like this for days, weeks, months, years. Until, one day, Te Tuna came and said he must leave Hina forever. 

“Tomorrow I will arrive in a great flood of water and you must chop off my head and bury it in the earth,” Te Tuna said to Hina. 

The next day Te Tuna came in that flood of water and Hina cried as she cut his head off. She cried still, as she dug into the dirt with a shell and buried the head of her lover.

Each day she went to visit the burial grounds. Her tears falling onto his buried crown. 

One day she noticed a green sprout rising to the surface. That sprout grew into a tree and that tree formed fruits, eventually. The fruits of the tree were the first coconuts. 

To this day, you can see the face and eyes of Te Tuna after a coconut is husked. 

Sam and I stayed in the forest until it was too dark to see. Frogs jumped all across the path. When we shined our lights on them, they would freeze into statues and hop away only after we turned the light away. 

After 10 miles or hiking we hitchhiked back to the boat with a mystical couple that shot straight out of the astral. The man had been on Kaua’i for both hurricanes and runs a hiking tour company. The woman is a lomilomi massage therapist– that’s the traditional Hawaiian style massage– she also does sound healing and past-life regressive hypnosis therapy. 

Everyone we hitchhiked with was on some psychedelic spiritual plane. It got to the point where I wanted to stick my thumb out just to have a conversation and crack my head further open.

It makes sense that the people of Kauai all felt pure and true and spoke words that dazzled. When the Dalai Lama visited Kauai’i he said one part of the island is where all souls enter the earth, and another part is where all souls leave earth for the next world. Everyone living on that island was like a little Buddha sitting in the stage of sainthood that is just about to bear the ultimate fruit of nirvana.

….. To Be Continued……


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8 Replies to “Forest Flowers”

  1. Yes, I love the stories. I am truly curious why the Hawaiians wanted to be affiliated with the United States? Do the locals still think becoming a state was a good idea? Just like Key West and the Conch Republic, is there a subculture of those who want to secede?

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