Tag Archives: Lisa St. Aubin de Teran

Maui Diary 7 — Hana

Hamoa Beach

Before we ever saw it, the town of Hana had taken on a mysterious and romantic identity in my mind, a sort of personality created out of the scattered facts and sayings gleaned from books and friends, such as:

Hana is remote, reached by a long and winding, narrow road… The residents like it that tourists find it troublesome to get to… Many stores only take cash, and businesses close early… There’s not much night life… The beaches are black, or red-and-white, or the usual white/grey, but always mythical… It rains most days on that side of the island.

No doubt I also connected the sound “hah-nah” to that other geographical name that resonated not only in my ears but in my soul: Hoh. That was another moist place we visited, a river and a forest that teemed with life and constant change, and which I found soothing and exhilarating at the same time.

We reserved a condo in Hana for one night so that we wouldn’t have to hurry back to our home base on the South Shore as soon as we reached this destination. Good thing, because as it was, our experience of Hana was too short for comfort, and bittersweet.

Lisa St. Aubin de Teran said that “Traveling is like flirting with life. It’s like saying, ‘I would stay and love you, but I have to go; this is my station.'” I don’t mean to be superficial; I always long for plenty of time to get to know a new person or place to some degree higher than a Casual Meeting. Hana must think I am a flirt; I hope I can go back and demonstrate otherwise.

We arrived in Hana in the afternoon, and missed visiting the famous black beach because we were late for an appointment (oh, that is so un-Hana-ish) on the other side of town. But we had our own lesser black beach that we could see right off the deck of our room. In the picture above you can barely see it on the other side of the building, a little dark strip.

Spider Lily

At dusk we walked on those steep slopes of black gravel, and the wind blew my hair every which way as rain began to fall. Quite a lot of rain fell in the night, and we could hear it along with the pounding waves, through the doors that I insisted on leaving open so that I could feel the magical Hawaiian air.

In the morning we packed up and went early to Hamoa Beach — there are those soft-toned exhalations again — where the sky and sea looked dark and coldly unfriendly like our Northern California beaches — but beyond the colors, there was no likeness at all. Mr. Glad walked out into the waves and swam in the warm water to his heart’s content, while I waded and dug my toes into the so-soft sand. I took pictures, and noted that the Spider Lilies here looked fresh and perky compared to the ones on the sunnier side of Maui.

For a little while it seemed that we were the only people on Hamoa Beach. On the beach, yes, but there was a surfer out beyond the breakers. He caught my eye when he stood up on his board, a muscular brown islander guy (surely the same hunk I had seen on a postcard), and let the surf bring him all the way in.

On The Most Beautiful Beach in the World, wasn’t that just the perfect scene enacted for our delight? When he carried his surfboard out of the water I told him, “Watching you ride that wave completed my experience of Maui.”

“Is it your first time on the island?” he asked. Then he extended his hand to shake mine and said, “Welcome to Maui!”

Book Notes

This stack represents the top of the current pile I’ve been working on. Any guesses as to which one I’ve already abandoned? I’ll start from the top. At Large and Small by Anne Fadiman was a gift from H. We had both enjoyed her earlier book for readers, Ex Libris. She specializes in the personal essay and does a fine job of it, but I like the first book better; this one ranges over topics not so interesting to me. At least it is a small and lightweight book, which makes it possible to read while lying down just before the eyelids get heavy.

Creators is the first book by Paul Johnson that I have actually completed, though I’ve started in on two others by him. It is a collection of essays on famous creative individuals “from Chaucer and Dürer to Picasso and Disney.” Um…to be exact, I didn’t complete the book; there were a few in whose stories I couldn’t drum up enough interest at bedtime. The chapter comparing Picasso and Disney was certainly thought-provoking. Johnson thinks that the ideas of Picasso will fade and be outmoded, while those of Disney will endure–not because Picasso was so selfish and violent and Disney a maker of “family movies,” but for an entirely different and more fundamental artistic reason, which I don’t want to give away here.
I learned a lot more about many people in this book: T.S. Eliot, Jane Austen, Mark Twain, J.S. Bach, fashion designers and landscape painters. How does Johnson know so much, and how can he be so opinionated? He is easy to read, and refreshing in his willingness to tell you just what he thinks, and to not be politically correct, either. This book is one of a series with two others: Intellectuals, published many years ago, and Heroes, which has come out since. Some critics thought Intellectuals somewhat of a downer, but these last books should make up for that.
My friend K. lent me The Folding Cliffs. It’s not a book I’d have ever picked up otherwise, written as it is without any punctuation and me a member of the Apostrophe Protection Society. Is this even English? I guess it is, as I am able to read it, though it is definitely a variant form. In this case it is worth the trouble, though I’m not ready to tackle Merwin’s other poems. Here’s a sample from Cliffs:

The story is as captivating as the imagery, and I certainly won’t abandon this one, even if it takes me a year of little snatches. I like the way the words flow as soothingly over my consciousness as the stream over the narrator’s body.
Steinbeck’s novel East of Eden was recommended to me by two friends, so I was happy to find it in the used book store. I’ve read almost half of it, and enjoyed several of those hundred pages. But this is the one I’m quitting. B. says I could write a dissertation on “What Can Be Learned of Steinbeck by Reading Half a Book”; I gave him my whole dissertation while cooking dinner after my decision to quit, but I will spare you readers. It boils down to the reality that life is short, and there didn’t seem to be anything to be gained by continuing with Steinbeck. There has always been something missing between him and me. Perhaps this time would be different, and I’d be surprised and gratified if I’d finished it, but one can’t have everything in life.
The Hacienda by de Teran is a re-run for me, but now B. and I are reading it aloud together. It’s a fascinating story of Venezuela in the 1970’s and the author’s experience–how she got herself into a mess and lived in a primitive society for quite a while before escaping for her life. I’ve read a couple more books by this author and she tells a good tale–the ones I’ve read were the autobiographical accounts.
I love to read on a airplane. There is not much else to do, usually, so hours can go by without the attention being distracted. The Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton I took on my last flight as a treat I’d been long waiting to enjoy again. It was the kind of book that, the first time I read it, I knew to be the kind you have to read at least two or three times if you hope to get near the bottom of it.
Before our plane taxied down the runway I was well into the first chapter. My seatmate, who had initially seemed reserved, interrupted my reading to tell me that he much admired Chesterton and that particular book. Over the next ten or fifteen minutes we chatted on the subject of good writers, Christianity, how books had changed us, etc. And we still hadn’t taxied anywhere, because as it turned out, the plane had a mechanical problem which ended up delaying our flight for three hours, by which time we’d all disembarked and my new friend had got a different flight. I was quite pleased that the Lord had given me a short and sweet discussion time and a long and sweet reading time, all on the same leg of the journey.
Richard Wilbur may be my favorite poet. K.’s having introduced me to hers jogged me into digging out Wilbur’s poems again, which are so varied and beloved, I will have to write one or more posts just on him.
Now that there aren’t any travels in my near future, there might not be many new books begun, either. But as you can see, I’ve still plenty to keep me busy.