We left for Maui on March 3, wearing winter coats. In our absence spring arrived. Poking through the pine branches (which I’d left on the snow covered garden) were brightly colored crocuses. The daffodils grew six inches in the 10 days we’d been gone. In contrast to the vibrant colors of Maui, everything here is muted, but with that exciting promise of an explosion of color. Soon the forsythia bushes will turn to brilliant balls of yellow. Then the lilacs, crab apple, and dogwood will bloom in pinks, purples and peachy whites. The asparagus and rhubarb will provide our first homegrown harvest.
In the past few days we’ve enjoyed a very different landscape, and bounty. Despite a climate well suited to growing an abundance of fresh foods, they are not easily found (although we’ve seen a steady improvement over the past few years). We ate juicy pineapple, apple bananas (smaller, firmer and sweeter than the large ones flown to our markets from Costa Rica), papaya—all local and sold at a “farmer’s market” (on Maui this simply means a market that sells some local produce). We went upcountry to Kula to get a wider variety of exceptional vegetables: beautiful lettuce, sweet carrots, fresh strawberries. Next time we’ll drive to Kula early in the trip; there were many vegetables we didn’t have enough time to try, like the gorgeous artichokes and avocados.
Excellent goat cheese is available at Surfing Goat Dairy, where we took a tour, fed some goats, and petted the youngest, who climbed all over each other. I am convinced that goats would be an enjoyable addition to Maggie’s Farm, although they like interaction so much that they are clearly pets (and will require much more attention than the chickens).
A number of restaurants on Maui now source meats, vegetables and cheese locally and my favorite by far is Flatbread in Paia. We discovered it on the last trip, and it is just as good (we ate there three times). We had been surprised to discover that Flatbread is a franchise (mostly in New England), but they’ve made it distinctly local. Aside from excellent pizza with fresh, local ingredients, they make the best drinks on the island—fresh juices and top shelf liquor, some of it local as well (Maui rum and vodka).
Plants and trees grow almost before your eyes; the colors and variety present a lush dazzling array. Even though this time of year is the “rainy season,” the weather was unusual: Kauai and Oahu had bad flooding and parts of Maui were so saturated there was briefly a ban on drinking water on the north shore. We didn’t mind the rain, and we enjoyed some sun and a few spectacular sunsets.
The whales come to Hawaii in December to have babies, and return to Alaska in the summer to feed. I would have been happy scanning the horizon all day to see the awe-inspiring whales rising out of the water. We spent one night on Lanai and as the sun set we watched several whales take their time rounding a bend. The next morning we had the breathtaking experience of watching dozens and dozens of spinner dolphins swimming and spinning out of the water in Hulopo’e Bay. Some people sat on surfboards in the water to watch them up close—experts have found that dolphins are adversely affected when humans swim with them, but these were stationary observers.
The trip was relaxing and refreshing, and we spent a lot of time with Cherisse’s brother and his family—Briana is 10 now and Mekayla turns six very soon.
Still, we couldn’t wait to get home to all the animals and chickens…all well taken care of by a rotating crew of excellent house-sitters, and my sister who managed all the comings and goings and took the dogs from time to time (evidently four dogs are too many for one bed…Cathleen had to sleep on her couch for three nights to escape the crowd). We’re eager to hear from our young friend Isaac about the games he taught Featherfoot.