Man-O-War. Not.


You are back at Hapuna Beach because it is your favorite spot on the Kohala Coast.  You resist the urge to go directly to the shave ice shack and head to the sand only to find signs warning of Man-O-War.  You know now why the waters are not crowded.

Seeing a few people frolicking in the waves, you think maybe if you just put a toe in.

Next thing you know, you can’t resist the pull of the waves.

Only in looking at your pictures that evening do you remember the sign.

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The Best Water Ever

sign fill your bottle

When Ranger Julia insisted you needed to try the water from the spigot at the Kilauea Visitor Center, you resisted at first. You grew up drinking artesian well water in the desert.

You can even remember the afternoon the drillers broke through and how the water rivered down the hill for what seemed like hours (but was only minutes) as they worked to get the cap in place.  You were wearing a green dress and the water came to your knees which really wasn’t that high because you were probably just six and barefoot and so excited for this surprise of a flash flood.

You think that nothing could be as spectacular as this water.  And then you taste it and wonder how you are going to bring it back on the plane with you.

Cat Beach


You don’t know the name of the beach. Your iPhone marks it as near Puako, but you call it Cat Beach.  As in: Do you want to take the leftovers out to Cat Beach to give to the hungry feline family?

And, so one night you take a few leftovers.  And, the next day you have a bag of vittles in the rental car. And, then you find out that these spoiled creatures prefer meat to kibble, want any crouton-like chow  soaked in milk (no, half and half).

You wonder how these beggars can be so bossy, but you comply and return to this beach even when it is raining. Even before you have had your own supper. You half consider buying them their own Huli chicken just to hear them purr.

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sign approach

You think every rule you have to provide to students in your syllabus came about for a reason.  The special instructions you now offer before students go on a field trip came as a result of the adventure gone wrong. You still have flashbacks from that night at the Poetry Center and the performance piece where your student staged someone to heckle him, and then, like most play fighting episodes, something went horribly wrong.

You know this sign on the trail is a reminder of something like this.

And you know this sign is for more than lava; it is for every bubbling volcano you might meet on the city street.

Hapuna Shave Ice


When you are asked your favorite beach on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island, you immediately think of Hapuna Beach– mostly because of its shave ice. Though you don’t have a real sweet tooth, you love this frozen treat after hours of absorbing the ceaseless waves.

As you climb the hill to the 3 Frogs snack shack, all you can think of is color: red, yellow, and purple (cherry and pineapple and grape). These three shades remind you of popsicles so melty-good you would never resist sucking the bright syrup from the plastic bag.  Of course, it is a tough decision because blue and soft pink (vanilla and coconut) taste like magic.  So does the blue one with the ice cream drizzle.  How many flavors is too many, you wonder as your straw shows you that red is the dominant dye, but your tongue says: grape wins.

And than you think maybe you should forget about the shave ice and instead describe the wide white beach, the fine, soft sand, how the waves wash into your own rhythm and follow you home.  There is something satisfying about the whole ritual, about afternoons spent in sun and wind and sweetness.

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Live Longer, Eat Fish


You have read of the benefits of fish oil. You don’t mind choking down a few of those amber-colored pills for the promise of reducing the signs of aging (you are over 40, after all) and for the potential boost to fat burning and memory and muscle.  But, only in  picturesque Hawaii, will you consider indulging in the catch of the day.

Butterfly Shrimp

butterfly shrimp!

You do not eat seafood — unless you are on a coast or an island.  Then, as you savor it, you wonder why you do not eat seafood more often.

You smile into the plate of delicious coconut shrimp from Charley’s Thai Cuisine at the Queens Shops, off of Waikoloa Drive, and you see your smile reflected in the plate’s arrangement–and you smile bigger.  Your smile is so big it exceeds the plate.

Your husband looks at you, having known you for more than half of your life and wonders: Who is this woman eating seafood?  Who is this woman smiling and refreshed?  And then he remembers, you are his vacation wife.