Revisiting ʻIolekaʻa for an anniversary

2 07 2018

Iconic view of ʻIolekaʻa

Yesterday, after 20 years, I walked back in to ʻIolekaʻa valley in Windward Oahu for the 20th anniversary of the celebration of life of my late friend Anita. She, her faithful dog Ei Nei, and the ʻāina (land) are memorialized in 13 landscape oil paintings I made in 1994. It was an honor and a privilege to have been invited by Anita to see her home, then and now.

A dozen friends and relatives began arriving at 9 a.m. calling “Ūi!” (Halloo) and answered by “Eō!” (Iʻm here). Long pants, long sleeves, boots, rain gear, hat, gloves, and defenses from mosquitos made up our garb. The plan was to hike through the bamboo forest to clean the heiau (stone platform) area and to rebuild the ahu (altar) with pōhaku, and then farther to the foot of the mountain, that is the water source for ʻIolekaʻa stream, where Anita’s ashes had been spread from a helicopter.

Cultivated anthuriums

Ginger and tree ferns by the stream, just steps from the house

Tracey and Donna blow the conch to acknowledge visitors

Cut anthuriums for Mom

Daughter Donna began with a prayer, and when she mentioned Anita’s name, a soft sweet wind breezed by, acknowledgement enough! Mahalo e Anita! Mahalo e ke Akua!

Oh, the memories. Not much has changed, except that I saw less kalo (taro) growing in the gardens. In fact, everything looks a little tidier. The current generation has recently returned to the land, acknowledging and accepting it is their kuleana to care for it.

Clearing the trail

Along the stream

Ancient Hawaiian rock terraces overgrown with bamboo

Every now and then a waterfall

Looking up

The ahu — before

Before photo. Waiting for the others.

The dog Ei Nei’s marker. R.I.P.

Corner wall of the heiau

Donna and Wally carefully rearrange the rocks for the ahu, flat side out.

More waterfalls

The ahu — after

Anita’s family and friends. pc: Didi Akana

After we pau hana we sat down to talk story and shared a bottle of wine and rolls with butter and jelly (Anita’s favorite snack). Sort of like holy communion, I thought! To me, the anniversary celebration for Anita fulfilled its purpose when the younger ones, her now-adult grandchildren, stepped up and announced it was their turn to continue the work.

We emerged from the forest at 3:30, muddy, damp and happy, and glad a pot of corn chowder and other goodies were waiting for our potluck “lunch.” By the time I walked out to modern civilization it was 5 p.m. What a full and wonderful day! Aloha e!

White ginger

 

Tahitian gardenia

~ Rebekah Luke

 


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