Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Celebrating Lili'uokalani ... live her legacy

Sunday, September 2 was Queen Lili'uokalani's birthday. The photo in an earlier post is that of dancers at the annual ONIPA'A (stand together!) celebration at Iolani Palace in Honolulu. As we looked at the 17 photos posted on the Internet this morning Pete leaned over and said, "We'd be there." Yes, we would if we could've and since we couldn't we celebrated instead where we are. In the fruit orchard in the woods on this moku (island) Pete and I joined our friends and land-mates for a Labor Day and Birthday Party for Lydia Liliʻu Loloku Walania Wewehi Kamakaʻeha. Our friends are life-long feminist activists, one a retired anthropologist, the other a nurse-anthropologist who slowly weans herself from a lifetime of teaching. On Sunday as I set about the Vardo cleaning and making the bed I heard The Teacher walking outside and called to her through the open window. She asked, "Guess whose birthday it is today?" I was stymied. She tried to pronounce a name that began with an "L" and I was embarrassed to have forgotten. "Lili'uokalani, I said." "Yeah, Lily!"

Earlier in the year I thought about having an orchard celebration with friends on Lili'uokalani's birthday, but forgot. My friends remembered and so it was that four friends came together to ONIPA'A in the orchard.

The Menu

Fresh caught salmon filleted and oven- grilled with butter and garlic
Dill and cucumber dressing 
Freshly pulled beets steamed among their greens
Sauteed Whidbey zucchini with red onions
Grandmother's recipe for cornbread 
that received rave reviews from a Southerner
Flourless chocolate espresso cake from JW Desserts
Homemade haupia (coconut pudding)
from my mother's copy of The Junior League Cookbook

The Stories

Our lives here, the life we four friends make together comes with history we slowly weave together day after day. We met for the first time three summers ago at the Farmers' Market not far from the orchard. A pair of Irish Blue eyes the color of liquid turquoise greeted us from under a canvas tent where jars of fresh flowers displayed themselves for sale. We, Pete and I, were hunting for a place to park with dreams of rooting our Gypsy souls. Those eyes were those of The Teacher and the rest of the story is our shared history together.

As we said a simple prayer "Thank you!" and joined hands to eat the succulent meal we had other stories to share with one another. Foremost among them was the arrival of a Blue Heron, a male or female we aren't certain. But, what was certain is that the long-limbed darning needle sharped feathered one was making itself very comfortable hunting the fish in our friends' front pond. It creates a bit of a snuffle for though the beautiful winged one is beautiful, two black canines were here first and that front front where exists the pond is 'home territory' to the Boys. I've not discovered the currency of that story for today, but will save it and leave it for now.

Talk of adventures and politics; laughter over made-up words and silliness made eating and digesting the mostly locally gathered and harvested meal a marvelous time. I spoke the Queen's name, and pronounce her names to fill the space with the mana of her deeds and her dear self. We would indeed have been part of the celebration where Lili'uokalani was born, and where I too was born. But, sometimes the journey and the story expands beyond the limits of a moku as it reaches the shore. Beyond the edges of time and boundaries, the essence of a brave woman's example bridges people who might not have met until one life ended and another was born somewhere else.
Lili'u and friends

The haupia was soft and more pudding-like than the firm hold in your hand version of coconut pudding most might eat at a lu'au. Spooned onto or next to the dense flourless chocolate cake, the two flavors just swooned into each other. Rich. Decadent. Endorphin-inducing. We eat. We laughed. We celebrated. In the company of thousands of trees, I bet Lili'u would have enjoyed herself.

E Lili'u e
Noho nani mai.

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