Innocence and naïveté

When my dad first told me this story it made me laugh, probably because he told it in a way that was humorous. Sometimes, though, I think of it as poignant in its depiction of the simple innocence, naïveté, and basic gratitude of youth.

I think the first time my dad ever went to the movie theatre was the first time he saw an actual moving picture, as TVs were not a common household item when he was growing up in the 30s and 40s.

He must have been about 10 years old because he had his own money by then from a paper route. He and his best buddy, Harry Lamareaux, with coins in their pockets, walked to the theatre on a Saturday afternoon and went to the matinee. They bought their tickets; perhaps they sprang for a bag of popcorn to share and made their way to their seats.

In those days, and when I was young as well, theatres didn’t show 10 to 15 minutes of advertisements in the form of movie trailers before the feature presentation. The theatres showed you a short film, as perhaps you remember, typically a lengthy cartoon, before the movie started.

My dad and Harry, being only 10 or 11, thoroughly enjoyed the cartoon. In fact, they were possibly enthralled with the whole concept of moving pictures. When the screen went blank at the end of the short film, well satisfied, and having never been before, not knowing exactly what to expect, Dad and Harry stood up and left, thinking the movie was over. They missed the entire feature film for which they’d paid their precious coins.

They found out their mistake later when they got home and my grandmother asked about the movie.

My dad probably didn’t think it was funny at the time.

But time softens a lot of things.

 

Copyright © 2011 by Christine M. Grote

Hula and fire dancers

We went to a “Hawaii Alive” luau show while we were in Kauai. The directors, Wallis and his wife Shana Punua follow the legacy of his parents Victor & Ku’ulei Punua who taught and performed Hawaiian music and dance for 60 years. Their Halau (school) has received recognition as an invitee to the prestigious Merrie Monarch Hula Competition.

It was a soul-stirring performance.

Dancers in colorful rich costumes danced modern Hawaiian dances as well as the traditional dances that have been taught from woman to woman, or man to man, through the ages. Because of this preservation of tradition and culture through dance, I felt transported back through time. How long ago were the native women of these islands telling these same exact stories with hand and body motions set to the stirring song of the Hawaiian drums?

The women dancers were beautiful, graceful, sensual, and energetic. The men danced with unrestrained vigor and passion.

The native language, instruments, costumes, dance movements and fire flames all combined to create a rich cultural experience.

Leaving me to wonder, what is my culture as an Anglo American descended from primarily Germanic traditions with a bit of England, France, Scotland and Ireland thrown in?

Hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet?

Thank goodness the government didn’t let Chevrolet go under.

(I have a couple of very cool pictures that I can’t figure out how to transfer from my I-pad to my blog. Check back later. This blogging-from-an-I-pad has it’s challenges. I am looking forward to being settled in front of my laptop once again. Thank goodness for the comforts of home, or I’d never want to leave paradise.)

The land called Hanalei

It’s 3:10 in the morning local time.

A short distance outside my sliding glass doors lights from below illuminate the green palm leaves that sway in the breeze on the clusters of trees lining the shore. Two bright lights from across the bay streak reflections across the water. Although I can’t see the lighthouse from this position, the sweeping beam regularly moves through the trees. A handful of other bright lights across the water are visible. Densely scattered tiny lights of varying brightness twinkle throughout the sky. Otherwise all is black—the sound of the relentless waves breaking against the shore filling the night.

On Tuesday we drove from Lihue on the southeast side of the island Kaua’i north until the road comes to an end past Hanalei. The volcano that created the island and stands always visible, dominating and formidable, in the center of the island prohibits passage across or around the island.

The people of Kaua’i live, and the tourists play, in the small stretch of land between the beating waves of the endless sea and the steep and hostile black walls of the mountains. Along the road through Hanalei elegant homes are built on pillars or stilts, particularly on the beachfront properties.

The other side of the road is scattered with modest little single-story homes, some of them shacks, really. Any high water that passes below the stilted homes will certainly wreck havoc on these smaller ones huddled on the ground—a visual reminder of the haves and have-nots and of their respective vulnerabilities.

Along this road we passed several cavelike rock formations sheltering small bodies of water that looked like something a pirate’s treasure or Excaliber could be submerged in. These caves, along with the sweeping white beaches, the brilliant teal color of the water, the vigorous surf splashing up in white sprays, the dense and lush green foliage lining and shading the road like a botanical tunnel, all create a magical, mystical mood in the land called Hanalei.

A water-filled cave along the side of the road in Hanalei, Kaua'i.

 

Kayak scouts or—who found the Hawaiian islands?

Hawaii is a testament to the adventurous and courageous spirit of humankind.

How did the first people get here?

Humans are somewhat migratory by nature. And on the larger continents it’s not so difficult to imagine that humans walked outward and spread to far locations. That still would have taken courage, but they could have done it a little at a time.

The first scouts to Hawaii had to get in a boat with food and water and head out to the open sea. They couldn’t have known another island was out there. Granted, they probably started in Asia then hopped from one Polynesian island to the next. But how long would those trips have taken in a man-made and manpowered kayak?

Somebody wakes up one morning in a settlement on the shore of Asia and tells his mother, “I’m going to go see what’s out there.” He throws a few coconuts and a container, perhaps a skin of some sort, of fresh water into his boat and shoves off the shore into the breakers. He doesn’t know which direction to take to nearest land. He doesn’t know how long it will take him to get there. He can’t even be sure land is out there. He has to take enough food and water for the return trip.

Someone had to make the first trip off the continent and out to sea.

How many nonproductive expeditions like this were made before the next island in the series was bumped into?

Maybe they had large sailing vessels and a systematic approach. Still.

Kaua’i is believed to be the first Hawaiian island settled, which makes sense if the settlers were coming originally from the Asian continent. Kaua’i is the furthest west of the “Sandwich Islands” named so by Captain James Cook, after the Earl of Sandwich, when he discovered the islands from the western world in 1778. Possibly a bad day for the natives—I don’t know the political history, but when west meets natives it usually doesn’t bode well for the natives. Just saying.

Polynesians from the Marquesas Islands got there about 1200 years before Captain Cook, but then, they were closer. Still, they had to travel over 2000 miles to migrate the islands, following the stars I presume. Of course getting there might have been blind luck. Getting back home again would have been the challenge.

Ever been on a boat in the middle of the sea?

Why were they even looking for new lands? Financial gain? Power? Just for kicks?

And I haven’t even mentioned the legendary little people called the Menehune who got there first.