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.

hapuna1 hapuna2 hapuna3

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.


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.

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.

Kapu: Don’t Steal

sign curse

This is a note on the menu at the Kona Brewing Company.  It is there as a warning for people not to steal items from the table, but it doesn’t specifically mention what from the restaurant one might want to take as a souvenir.

The sign makes me think about some of the vendors that have almost tricked me into buying a lovely pair of lava earrings.  I am pretty certain the vendors do not have permission to be selling these slices of the islands. I am superstitious enough to make sure I am not stealing from the goddess.

A Peach Face “Love Bird”

sign bird1

At one of the Ali’i Garden farmers’ market, in Kona, we came across Pretty Bird and her warning sign.

sign bird2

These are some of the important questions I might have in meeting a bird, a cat–or even a person–for the first time. And, they are each clearly answered for me.