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The Hana Highway

There’s a price to seeing some of the greenest green in the state of Hawaii. It’s called 620 curves and 59 single-lane bridges on Maui’s highway 360 heading to Hana.

It’s a road full of squiggles and cars reaching speeds of 10 mph.

But driving it is worth it–even for the feint of stomach.

Because nothing could be more outrageously green.

Or blue.

Or blue and green.

It’s like driving through someone else’s photographs.

Except those are our kids.

Every view is a back drop for a post card.

Layer upon layer of greens. Shade upon shade.

How to even take it all in.

And waterfalls.

Some visible from the road.

Some tucked away.

Each a little reward from heaven.

Here’s part of the coastline glinting in the sunshine.

And through these trees is Waianapanapa Black Sand Beach.

We’re in Hana at this point. Anticlimactic. No restaurant. No historical marker. No medal for making it this far.

But from the highway we’ve turned down the Honokalani Road, which leads to the Black Sand Beach.

This is amazing. Hundreds of people must come and go from this beach each day.

But no one seems to stay real long.

It’s as if everyone is in a hurry to get somewhere else.

They do like we do…

Snap a few pictures with this parent…

And then with that one…

Before hobbling off the rocks in their bare feet and back to the car.

Only we do stay longer.

We crawl through the surf.

And watch the glass-like socks that form at our ankles as the waves rush back to the rest of the ocean.

Hours. I wonder if we couldn’t do this for hours…

Build forts in the surf while Husband figures out how to take his own picture…

Without snarling at the same time.

Uh…complicated.

But…there we are!

Missin’ a kid, though.

Ah. Got it.

A little further past Hana, we brake at a coconut sign.

Silas says it is worth his five bucks.

But this. This is Hamoa Beach–a little south of Hana.  A gem on Maui.

And what makes it so great is that the waves here break further from the shore and make it one of the best places to boogie board.

I suppose you can boogie board on any beach. But it’s different here.

You can simply ride wave after wave from 100 feet out all the way to shore.

And it doesn’t get old.

Like. Not at all.

And it’s probably where we should have spent the afternoon, but I hurried us along thinking we ought to see the Haleakala National Park where the Seven Sacred Pools are.

I think someone will hit me over the head next time.

The little dotted circle at the bottom of the map is the route that takes you to the pools. The closed Seven Sacred Pools. Which means we can pay to look, but not touch.

The other dotted line is the Pipiwai Trail which leads to a couple of waterfalls.

We took the trail…

Which has its own lush green on every side of us…

And some major views.

That light green fluffiness is the tops to a bunch of bamboo.

Here’s an old banyan tree in the middle of the trail…

With branches so low it makes sense to sit on them.

This is the bamboo up close.

Which doesn’t let a lot of light down to the ground. Rather, the hollow trunks thunk and whistle and rub against each together like a low-note wind chime.

They even dip and sway like they might just lay down for good.

Here’s the trail’s destination. A waterfall with a long name.

The sign we’re leaning against says to not go beyond it.

Which seems to inspire folks to go beyond.

Lots of leafy things to notice on the way back.

And unleafy things.

And that familiar banyan tree…

Which lets us know we’re almost back.

One last bit of foliage we won’t find on Mount Rainier.

Then. Since we’ve made it this far, we walk the loop to The Seven Sacred Pools.

Of which there aren’t seven. Nor is sacred the right adjective.

The pools are foamy and full and wind-whipped. Which is why, like everybody else, we’re just looking over the edge today.

It’s a long, slow-going ride back to Kahana from here. No matter which way we go.

We could turn around and wind back the way we came.

But we don’t.

We continue around the island creeping over narrow, patchwork pieces of highway that take our very breath away.

There’s nothing halfway about driving to Hana.

And there’s nothing…nothing quite as beautiful.

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Braving the Piano Recital

This moment–eight minutes before the start of their piano recital–is the most serious I have seen Silas.

Also the stillest.

And maybe that’s because his stomach is all trembly about plunking those piano keys up there alone for all those folks in the pews.

But he rises. And he sits.

And he plays his In My Red Convertible like his fingers might catch on fire.

In mere moments we applaud with proud hands the boy who wasn’t sure he could. But did.

Raven is from a different planet. I think.

She seats herself at the keys with confidence. And plays.

Unafraid. Unabashed. Beautiful notes. Beginning to end.

When it’s over… it’s over!

And it’s not just a relief for every kid, but for this lady, the one who pours herself into my children two hours a month. Laughing. Inspiring. Understanding.

She gets my boy.

And I’ve wondered, “how could I ever ask someone to love my kids like I do?”

Only. I didn’t even have to ask.

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Maui in the Rain

Since October, we’ve wondered if the sun might ever shine again in western Washington.

Or the rain have mercy.

And it’s happened. Just twice.

Which means we’ve borne witness to the wettest winter on record. And the palest skin on anybody. Yay.

So. It’d seem we’re checking out of this state ’cause we’re near to losing our minds without the sun. But really we’re on our way to Maui because we’d planned this trip a year ago. Even a sunburn in 86 degree weather sounds like a good time.

Here’s our teensy Nissan Versa, which almost holds all of us, our bags and the food we bought at Costco.

And this is our fifth floor view and what’s left of Friday night’s sunshine.

This is what I smiled at a moment before the football in husband’s hands got launched, fell short of our railing and nailed the window of the fourth floor unit. Ack.

Bananas. Just hangin’ there.

Produce. With more numbers after the dollar sign than we’re used to.

Last week I bought these same yellow onions for $.29/lb. My aunt Nancy who lived in Walla Walla in the thick of the onion fields would still be shaking her head.

These are west Maui’s Saturday clouds.

Which confusingly could be Seattle’s clouds, as they’re heavy and wet. And have plans to dump for the next 48 hours.

Which doesn’t mean that we can’t stand here with our bare feet in the sand and still appreciate that we’re in Hawaii.

But we might be the only ones out here…

Waiting for the waves…

To soak every last bit of our clothes.

At this point, these guys aren’t gettin’ any wetter.

And they couldn’t be happier with all this sand to themselves.

Found a Saturday’s farmer’s market outside of Lahaina a ways. Just a few folks selling their homemade and homegrown goodies. Money well-spent.

But. It rained even more in Lahaina. At which time we saw our first person wearing a heavy coat zipped up to his chin.

 

The banyan tree of banyan trees in downtown Lahaina.

Dodging puddles en route to our parking spot.

Saturday night, it was resolved that we had come to Hawaii to play on the beach in any weather.

At least two of us had.

And so while every other person on Maui was anywhere but at the beach…

 

Troy and I pulled the brims of our hats down further and wrapped every towel we brought with us, around us…

While the wind blew the rain sideways, the sun stayed away, and these guys dug in the sand.

Sigh. Welcome to Sunday.

This is what Seattle might look like with palm trees.

Still raining in the evening, but running in the rain on the beach beats sitting in a chair with your swim trunks on watching it rain.

Souvenirs.

Signs of life.

Ah…and look at that. A little hope.

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Almost Tulips

We hadn’t intentionally driven an hour to Mossyrock to buy another cactus to put in the kitchen window sill.

Until we had.

In fact, one of us happily parted with even more of his lawn mowing cash when he found succulents and lilies and things with pretty leaves that he couldn’t live without.

The rest of us came for the tulips.

The rows of reds and pinks…

Which ended up being the only rows of color in full bloom.

Because a record amount of rain will do that. Delay even the tulips.

Even so, it’s hard to be unhappy when the sun is shining.

Hard to walk the length of the rows…

And not feel like you could be here forever.

Because there’s a certain freedom in the flower fields.

A refreshing of the soul.

A depth of gratitude for this day. This moment.

These three.

And maybe that’s why we come. To experience more than flowers.

And cramped knees.

We come to hit the reset button on family.

And to breathe in a glimpse of all God painted behind us.

Not every photo should be shared.

Or every song.

But hope.

Yes.

Hope.

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Little Mashel Falls Trail

If you can make it to Pack Forest in Eatonville, WA, then you’re almost there. In fact, your GPS will say you are there. It’ll even say you’re at the trailhead. Which is where you want to be. Only you’ll look north, south, east, west and even under your car and realize that there is no trailhead sign.

Just a sign like this that can’t seem to make up its mind either.

But it’s here that the trail begins. On the 1000 Rd. heading north.

And it’s a road all right. A road we’ll follow for 1.8 miles before we tip toe through the mud on the actual trail.

A road that looks like this at the beginning…

And then after a while, still looks like this.

It’s green on both sides of us. And with the sun…wow.

This is the triangular intersection where we’ll veer left down the 1070 Road while the 1000 Road continues to the right.

Then from the 1070 we’re looking for this rock–the one spray painted “Falls.”

It’s obvious with the new gravel in places that the trail crews have hauled rock in to reinforce the trail. But where they haven’t, the mud nearly eats our shoes alive.

Not far past the muddiest spots, the trail heads down. Down, as in, when we turn around, we’ll be panting UP.

This is the first glimpse of the Lower Falls through the trees.

Probably the place where thousands of cameras have clicked.

But it definitely gets better.

Posted every 100 yards or more are signs on trees reminding hikers of the two fatalities in 2016.

Which doesn’t mean that this is a dangerous hike. But it can be. In fact, the warnings are enough for me to have the kids crouch down a moment while I see what’s up ahead.

Up ahead is this. Stairs leading down to the Lower Falls. Something we wouldn’t hesitate to take in the summer.

But we don’t test them out. The view is enough from where we are.

And I can imagine it only gets more stunning through the summer months.

Back up the trail a little ways is a spot where left-over wood pieces are piled.

One of us makes himself a chair.

And together we have lunch…

With a bit of a view.

By trail comparison, this isn’t a hard hike, but it is steep in the places where it heads directly down to the falls.

We could continue to the Middle and Upper Falls, but we don’t. We hike back in the direction we came until we reach the stream we crossed on our way down.

And it always begins like this. With him knelt down to make a dam. And her watching.

Until a minute lapses, and she’s knelt down, too.

And then it’s the two of them. And it’s not just his dam; it’s their dam.

She hunts down the next rock.

And he arranges.

Until the thing is done.

Or rather, it’s time to be movin’.

Which is what we do…

We put our feet back in motion.

And head South on the 1000 Rd.

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Sequalitchew Creek Trail

You might need a pronunciation guide for this trail–Se-qual-it-chew.

That, and a map to find DuPont.

Then, too, if you can catch the rarest thing in western Washington these days–a sunny, 45 degree morning–like we did, this is the place you want to be.

Because all that rain has to amount to something. Somewhere.

And here it is. Eighteen shades of green.

In every direction.

The creek running beside us is a symphony.

We can almost forget our car is parked a mile away on concrete surrounded by buildings.

It’s truly a leisurely, barely-slanted walk. I’m sure our driveway is steeper.

That hole there at the end…

Is a tunnel.

On the right side,though, is an old, unused set of tracks that leads directly to the wharf.

Might as well try to walk on them.

Ten feet from the tunnel is this view. The DuPont wharf.

The whole thing is measured in feet. 36 feet wide by 300 feet long.

And those rocks…yeah…forget about sneaking up on anyone. Crunch. Crunch.  Our shoes left craters at each step.

But golly, it’s pretty.

And it’s windy.

Which is why we’re already headed back through the tunnel again…

To watch our third train go by.

And to count its cars.

Then it’s a mosey back the way way we came.

Until 3.1 miles from start to finish, the trickle of the creek is just a memory, and we’re closing our car door again.

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At First Sight

I crossed the contact lens threshold when I was ten. I hadn’t worn glasses previously. I hadn’t known my vision was leaking out of one eye faster than the other. I just knew that the volunteer eye chart ladies at our elementary school had made notes by my name when I messed up on which direction the E’s were facing. And that before fifth grade had finished, I was wearing one contact lens in my right eye. Just one.

I loved my parents for this. Loved that they reasoned through the practicality of glasses and shook their heads, knowing how quickly a pair of frames would be broken with a brother like mine.

By seventh grade, I had contacts in both eyes. And by the time I was thirty, I’d been wearing lenses for 20 years.

It’s glasses that are new to me.

And yet, glasses are all my daughter has ever known. The first, brown tiny frames from Costco when she was eight. The second, slightly bigger pair that tied her over for two more years. And this last pair, ordered online with an old prescription–frames that hide 2/3 of her face and slip completely off when she does a cartwheel in the living room.

It’s contacts that are new to her. And everything about contacts.

Which is why she’s here in Dr. Toepfer’s office, trying to get her finger even close enough to touch her eyeball.

And why just when she thinks she’s got it…

She’s got to start all over.

I wonder if she’ll miss her bumbly frames. Or if, perhaps, she’ll treasure them more like a favorite blanket too old, too familiar, to throw away.

For now, though, I watch as she unconsciously pushes them up on her nose–glasses she’s not even wearing.

Welcome to contacts, Love!

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Thirteen

I was 12 and a half on the day I got my ears pierced at the Wenatchee Valley Mall. Six months ahead of promised. And a complete surprise.  A surprise mostly because my parents didn’t do things like walk into a jeweler’s to pierce ears ahead of schedule. And, because my mom, especially, wasn’t a spontaneous spender. But there I was, not even thirteen, with my ears pierced.

Last Saturday, at the old Supermall in Auburn, which is now not the Supermall but the new Outlet Collection, Troy and I and the kids roamed from store to store. We hadn’t come for ear piercing. We hadn’t even planned to come to the mall except that we were near it. Which was as good as having plans.

And then because the store that used to be Claire’s was piercing someone’s ears at the moment we were walking by and because Raven who was six days from her 13th birthday asked nonchalantly when she could get her ears pierced, we found ourselves inside the store that is not Claire’s looking at earrings that did more than clip on the back of the ear.

More specifically, we found ourselves here…

Or rather, six feet from here, tottering from foot to foot…

Breathing sparingly until this face…

Turned to this face.

Then behind us we saw this guy. Who lowered his head and asked in private whispers if he could buy these hoops for his sister. He patted his wallet. “I know she’d really like them,” he said.

And that’s the thing–she will. She’ll love them.

But mostly she’ll love the brother whose heart wanted her to have them.

And–she’ll remember being at the old Supermall, turning almost thirteen.

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What it Costs

Silas is a mix of snot and fumbled fingers. His wad of toilet paper in his front pocket is at the ready for when frustration signals his nose to run. Or for when his brain says, “enough,” and I’ve asked him to try one more time. He can catch the tears there, too.

I’m in my usual seat, to his left, sharing the piano bench that is big enough for his whole bottom and most of mine. For fifteen minutes I coax him to read yesterday’s notes, last year’s notes, today’s new notes. Only he doesn’t remember what they look like. I point at each note with my finger, moving it up and down like an elevator as the notes raise and lower, but his fingers still guess at what he thinks I want him to play. This key? No, this key? The notes are black ink on a white page—a tangle of same-looking squiggles.

I count one-two-three, one-two-three over and over again and ask Silas to move his lips with mine. He tells me that it’s easier for him if he doesn’t count. I insist. And we start the measure over. Then we start it again. And then again.

We are three years in. His pressing the keys on the piano with stiff, flat fingers. His lips quivering as he guesses at the notes on the page like a blind man. His shoulders slumping in personal defeat.

But eventually Silas’s ear learns the notes. His eyes memorize his hand positions and his fingers play the songs in rhythm from beginning to end. He does not look at his music, does not, cannot read the notes. Cannot identify middle C on the treble clef where it has sat for centuries and where it will sit tomorrow. But he is making music.

Alone at the piano, Silas’s fingers curve around chords. He pounds the keys rhythmically, fluidly, even, his full nine-song repertoire spilling out of his fingertips without pause. His head and upper body sway like a virtuoso and his face and eyes shine.

His simple songs reverberate within me, too. I anticipate the next piece as the one before it finishes. I chop and dice onions to the beat. I know where he has skipped a note or when he’s added a measure that wasn’t there. I holler unheeded help from the kitchen.

 

At his recital, we watch as Silas scoots to the edge of the piano bench. We wait as he finds the keys where his fingers should start. And then we listen, giddy in the moment, as he plays every practiced note as if it cost him nothing.

My mother-in-law leans in, her jaw half-way down. “I can’t believe how well he played,” she whispers. Her surprise is genuine.

I nod. Nod and smile and clap, proud of my boy.

Proud of us.

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Jesus Wept

When I asked Silas about his craft, he shrugged.

“They wanted us to write a Bible verse on the outside,” he says.

There are two words written on his jar.

“Is that why yours says, ‘Jesus wept?’” I ask. Which is what Jesus might do looking at this jar with green and gold glitter clinging to the inside, a fake candle in the bottom and the J of Jesus heading right instead of left. Weep.

“It was the shortest verse I could think of, “he says. Then, like he’s letting me in on a secret, he adds “all my friends wrote it on their jars, too.”

My body language is caught off guard. I’m not sure whether to laugh out loud or be appalled out loud. I can imagine a dozen jars on a dozen counters all reminding us that Jesus wept.

Which is true. The Bible records in John 11:35 the shortest verse, “Jesus wept.”

What my boy may not remember from the story is that Jesus’s friend Lazarus has just died. His sisters, Mary and Martha, had sent word for Jesus to come. Before Lazarus’s death.  Both sisters separately say to Jesus upon his arrival, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

And they know this because Lazarus’s death began with a sickness. And they know that Jesus healed the sick. Surely had he been there he would have healed Lazarus.

But Jesus didn’t hurry to Lazarus. The Bible says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days,and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

He knew—Jesus knew Lazarus was sick and still he waited. We might say Jesus over-waited. By the time Jesus reaches Lazarus, Lazarus is dead. As in four-days-in-the-tomb dead.

But what Mary and Martha and all those watching didn’t know was that Lazarus’s death didn’t catch Jesus by surprise. It wasn’t an oopsie. Jesus knew—as fully God—that he would raise Lazarus from the dead to the glory of God his Father.

And yet, as fully man, Jesus wept, as he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

Jesus. Wept.

 

I’ve been catching glimpses of Silas’s craft jar out of my peripheral at every meal for two weeks. And the profoundness of the simple words on its side are only now settling. Maybe they’re unsettling.

We ask, “where was Jesus when…?” And we fill in the blank with our nightmares of life. Cancer. Death. Rape. Betrayal. Depression.

“Lord, if only you had been here…”

And I wonder if it isn’t like Lazarus–that Jesus wasn’t late. Isn’t late. That our story contains the same short sentence, “Jesus wept.”

I wonder, too, if like Mary and Martha, our final refrain isn’t John 11:35.  But rather a sure hope in Jesus’s promise for those who believe.

“Did I not tell you,” Jesus says to Martha, “that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

If you believe…then you will see..

It’s a promise for all of us. A promise we can believe in, put our hope in.

 

Even when we weep.

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