Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Day Twelve: 'Ohi'a


Pencil Drawing: 'Ohi'a

In Hawaiian mythology, handsome 'Ohi'a, in love with beautiful Lehua, rejected  Pele who loved him, too. Enraged, the jealous volcano goddess turned 'Ohi'a into a tree. Other gods transformed the heartbroken Lehua into the flower of the 'Ohi'a tree. On the day you pick the lehua blossom, you are separating the lovers and it will rain.

Folklore aside, the 'Ohi'a Lehua plant was important to early Hawaiians. The wood created weapons, leaves made a medicinal drink, and the seeds fed native birds.

Today,  the hearty ʻŌhia rises from lava rock and blooms at Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Hula dancers wear lehua blossoms in lei headbands, around wrists and ankles. 'Ohi'a branches create traditional kalaau, or dancing sticks.

Monday, November 15, 2021

Day Eleven: Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo


Pencil drawing, Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo

"Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo (Hibiscus waimeae) has two subspecies. The subspecies hannerae is federally listed as an endangered species. It is distinguished by the much larger leaves and smaller flowers than appear in subspecies waimeae." Source: Native Plants Hawaii website.

Oh, Rare Hibiscus

Beautiful Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo
as white as the whitest sunshine
your red heart, the heart of the sun
in Molokaʻi, in my beloved Ko'olau forest.

You alone, oh rare hibiscus!
your sweet strength, this fragrance
opening for me in the morning
closing for me at night.

Heaven on earth:
Hana Mana, Kokiʻo keʻokeʻo.

@mscator, 11.15.21

Sunday, November 14, 2021

Day Ten: `Awa


Pencil drawing, `Awa

Early Polynesian voyagers brought the `Awa ("bitterness") plant to Hawaii and it grows abundantly in my hometown of Kaneohe, Windward Oahu, and other moist lower areas on all the islands. Called Kava or Kava Kava throughout the Pacific Islands, `Awa can be made into an herbal remedy that helps anxiety, insomnia, and other ailments.

`Awa was important to the ceremonies and cleansing rituals of Ancient Hawaiians. A favorite offering to the gods, chants recall how the gods Käne, Pele, and Kanaloa, were famous `Awa drinkers. 

Missionaries who came to Hawaii in 1820 discouraged the use of the intoxicating plant, but in recent years interest in the historical, cultural, and alternate medicine aspects of `Awa has resurged.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Day Nine: Kiawe


Pencil drawing, Kiawe

The first Kiawe wood seedling was planted in 1827 by Sacred Hearts Father Alexis Bachelot next to the Cathedral Catholic Church in downtown Honolulu's Fort Street Mall. Legend is he brought the tree from Chile.

With a large trunk and gnarly branches, Kiawe is a mesquite tree of hard, long-burning wood used for smoking meats and BBQs. Most importantly, Kiawe works great slow-cooking kalua pig in the imu.

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Day Eight: Two Milo Seeds


Pencil Drawing: Milo Seed Pods

The Milo is an interesting tree, its botanical name, Thespesia populnea, means “divine." A member of the hibiscus family, the bell-shaped Milo flower is pale yellow with a maroon center that blooms for just one day, then closes and becomes a seed pod as shown in this drawing. 

The pods dry brittle into papery capsules, opening at maturity, releasing about seven seeds that grow quickly and easily. Lamp oil has been made from the seeds.

The tree thrives on sandy coastal and volcanic soils and has a curved trunk and a large 30-foot spread that creates shade, windbreak, and shelter.

Ancient Hawaiians carved the beautiful dark heartwood of the Milo tree into canoes, food bowls, poi calabashes, platters and dishes, tools, and utensils. Milo wood remains easy to work with, has a smooth natural finish, and is durable.

Tuesday, November 9, 2021

Day Seven: Laua‘e

Pencil drawing, Laua‘e Fern

Common Is Uncommon

From Oceania to green Hanalei
the common Laua‘e fern
transformed to pe‘ahi of legend
our halau bends
to gather this spirit
for our hula kuahu and lei
as fragrant as sweet maile
kissing ankles, wrists, heads.

Joyous Laua‘e fingers
understand the dance:
ka makani, ka la, ua.
life, moon, aloha

For you, Beloved,
Common is Uncommon.

Together, we perform
this timeless ritual:

Our Chant--
sky and earth
heart to heart.

 @mscator 11.9.21

Monday, November 8, 2021

Day Six: Koa "Leaves"


Pencil drawing, Koa "Leaves"

"To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life."
Chogyam Trungpa

Imagine this-- the Koa tree only grows in Hawaii and Koa wood is the most beautiful wood in the world. "Koa" means fearless, warrior, brave, like King Kamehameha the Great who unified the Hawaiian Islands with swords, canoes, and paddles created with Koa.

Koa is revered, the wood of Hawaii's birth and history. Inside Iolani Palace, the home of the Hawaiian monarchy, the Grand Hall staircase is made of Koa.Duke Kahanamoku rode the Waikiki waves with his 114-pound Koa surfboard.

Today, musicians know that a ukulele or guitar made of Koa will have tonal magic. The wood grain of Koa is exquisite and expensive. And unique. Whether furniture, crafts, carvings, or jewelry each piece is different in color and grain.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Day Five: Mushrooms Growing on a Ti Stalk


Pencil drawing, Mushrooms Growing on a ti stalk


This life
it takes all
that you have.

And what do you give it?

@mscator 11.7.21

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Day Four: The Uluhe Fern


Pencil drawing, Uluhe

Precious Uluhe

Hawaii's uluhe fern,
righteous protector of Pele's rainforest,
Growing steady in Laupahoehoe.

Coiled frond, an energy swirl
shooting, reaching upwards
holding, hugging, caressing
soil and sky.

Independent Uluhe, 
Thick blanket for pali and aina
Healing aloha,
roots deep, trailing
wild in the cool rain.

Precious Uluhe,
harvester of tomorrow.

@mscator 11.6.21

Friday, November 5, 2021

Day Three: Kukui Nut

Pencil drawing, Kukui Nuts

When my Dad travels to the Mainland, representing Hawaii's Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), he brings a kukui nut lei for the people he meets with as a token of aloha.

This is just one of many usages of the versatile Kukui, which means "candlenut" in English and is the state tree of Hawaii. Called the "Tree of Light," the oil of the kukui nut kernel has a high oil content that is highly flammable and is a natural source of light when lit.

Planted in gardens as a shade tree, the silvery-green leaves of the kukui flourish in the Hawaiian sunlight.

"Art is not to throw light but to be light."
Kenneth Patchen