[This post is a little out of sequence as this trip actually happen in mid August, 2005. Reading the previous few posts will give you a sense as to why. It took a little extra time to prepare the graphics and get them on line. – GPE]
You would think four months after Janet’s death I’d catch a break. Nope. The Universe has other plans and I’d be a master wizard if I could figure it out. After a mini Odyssey trying to get to Kaua’i (thanks in great measure to United Airlines – I’ll spare you the details.), I rolled up to a neat looking cottage. I found it on the Net and rented it based on photos from a “sister” cottage. This one was new and no photos had been posted to the owner’s web site. Its very beautiful, elegantly decorated and simple in a way that appeals to my Buddhist sensibilities – all except for the absence of an indoor shower. Privacy wasn’t so much the problem as there was a constant breeze up that side of the hill which makes for a chilly shower experience. I had thought to skip the whole cottage route entirely and camp on Anini beach like we had done so many times before but lacked the time to properly prepare. Well, at least I got the campground shower experience.
|Anini Vista Cottage||Outdoor Shower – Brrrrrrrrr|
Unexpectedly, I feel Janet’s presence here on Kaua’i more than back home. Strange to be here without her, stranger still to have chosen a cottage next to a cemetery. I sense no troubled souls among my neighbors, however, and so they have added to the peacefulness of staying here. I haven’t actually visited the grave sites yet, but some look rather old. I can tell some have Japanese, or perhaps Chinese, calligraphy on them. The view of the ocean is spectacular.
[Update – 2006.05.21: I met the owner of the property upon which this cemetery resides when I revisited Kaua`i to lay Janet’s remains to rest. His name is Rick and he told me these are Japanese cane worker graves from around WWII and before. When he aquired the land the graves had been entirely overrun by the jungle. He cleared the space and maintains the grave sites, much to the delight of the surviving Japanese family members.]
First trip up is a drive to the dry side for coffee and a garden burger at the Hanapepe Café – yum. And from there on to Polihale Beach for the day.
|Old tree at the Crossroads||Polihale Beach|
Next day was my traditional, ritual trip to Hanakapiai Falls. I was on the Kalalau trail just before sunrise (I like to kick back at the falls for a couple of hours by myself before anyone else has a chance to get there.) and the day started a little rainy. Still, there’s no such thing as a bad view of the Na Pali Coast, especially from the point on the trail Janet and I called “Windy Point.” Why? Because every time we’ve been there, the wind is always blowing strong and steady.
|Na Pali Coast at Sunrise|
Noticed there’s a new warning sign on the trail just before reaching Hanakapiai Beach. They’re keeping track of the number of idiot visitors who have challenged the beach surf and lost. Look, they’ve left room for even more idiots to come!
|Hanakapiai Intelligence Test|
On the way down to the beach, I caught a glimpse of a rare black crowned night heron. I’ve only seen one before, in 2002 while staying at the “Lily Pad” cottage. This one appears to be a juvenile as it is mostly brown (not exactly obvious from the picture taken early in the morning in a dim jungle valley.) They’re pretty good at avoiding people.
|Black Crowned Night Heron
Originally I had planned just one memorial celebration for Janet and hadn’t anticipated the need for a second. But in the days after her death it became clear a much larger, public memorial was needed for everyone in Denver. The response was almost overwhelming as Janet had become somewhat of a public figure and was well known on many social levels in the community. So a private memorial for friends and family grew into a $15,000 public memorial hosted on 35 acres of beautiful flower gardens. It was magnificent and gratifying to provide a time and place so that many of the people touched by Janet’s life could grieve and meet each other.
As good as this was, I didn’t feel it was the kind of ceremony I wanted for Janet. I began thinking of some ways to have a memorial for Janet that was more sacred and reflective of her strong spiritual character. Public events rarely have this quality so I wanted something more private. As her remains will be spread in Hawai’i when next I visit, it seemed a good match to have the memorial on Kaua’i.
We were married on the Ka Ulu A Paoa Heiau in 1991 and since this is an important place for hula, it seemed a perfect fit to have a sacred hula performed on the Heiau as part of this ceremony, not just in recognition of her service and pioneering contributions to women’s health, but to help her spirit find the peace and rest she earned many times over. So how to find hula dancers. Can’t exactly say they are filling the streets in the mile high city.
Every trip I’ve taken to Hawai’i has included at least a week on Kaua’i and a hike up to Hanakapiai Falls. On the way back, at the trail head, I had thought to just head back to the cottage, but thought again, “Nope. Every time I did this hike I would meet Janet at the trail head and we would go up to the Heiau and renew our vows. I’ll just go for some silent meditation.”
Life with Janet was always magical, so I wasn’t so much surprised as I was delighted to see a magnificent group of hula dancers when I arrived at the Heiau. I could see filming was in progress (a documentary as it turns out) so I kept to the side and tried to keep out of camera. Thinking “Who do I talk to about this?”, a camera rolled down the hill and stopped at my feet. Looking up, there was an elderly woman waving for me to catch the camera. Taking it up to her I asked if she knew anything about what was being filmed. I learned she was the mother of one of the dancers. There’s that magic again. We had a wonderful conversation and exchanged contact information so I can follow up after the return home.
Next day I connect up with my sister (Cathy), brother-in-law (Bob) and niece (Becca) who had been visiting Maui for the past week. I took them up to Windy Point on the Kalalau trail and then up to the Heiau.
|Bad acting on Windy Point||Family to be proud of…|
The weather wasn’t rainy that day so the view of the Na Pali coast was clearer and just as spectacular.
|Na Pali Coast at Noon|
Time to see to another tradition by my self. On the day before Janet and I would leave the island, we would park ourselves on a large, flat lava rock which jutted out into the Ocean just off of Anini beach and which offered the most exquisite view of the sunset. We would bring a blanket, something to eat and drink and over the course of an hour and a half would watch the sunset develop and “happen”, all the while naming cloud shapes and me inventing stories to accompany the cast of vapor characters. As it was on the day we were married, there was a full moon this night. Once the sun had set, I turned around and watched the moon rise against the Ocean’s horizon. Such beauty. There is a God.
|The Sun…||… and the Moon|
Before I left the next morning, I spent a moment on Anini Beach, soaking in the sound of the locals laughing and playing, the feel and smell of the fresh sea breeze and my toes in the sand and water. Refreshed after this past week, I feel ready to move forward. Aloha a mahalo nui loa, Kaua’i. A hui hou.
|Farewell to Anini Beach|