Story by Kathy Collins | Illustration by Matt Foster
Listen to this column read aloud in pidgin:
Mos’ of us guys here in Hawai‘i nevah been walkin’ in one wintah wondah-land. But — balieve ‘em or not — get four titas on da Big Island who walk, talk, live an’ breathe snow. Da ancient Hawaiians used to call ‘em “da maidens of da white robe.” Dey da snow goddesses of Mauna Kea. Even da white kapa (tapa cloth) dey wear is pounded from snow. Summahtime, dey wear bright yellow kapa, pounded from sunshine.
Poli‘ahu is da mos’ famous. She da oldest sistah, so she da boss of all dem and all Mauna Kea. Plenny guys tell, she da mos’ gorgeous of all da Hawaiian goddesses. But no let Pele, da volcano goddess, hear you say dat. Da two a dem no get along, like oil an’ watah, or fire an’ ice.
Poli‘ahu’s t’ree sistahs was Kahoupokane, da goddess of da mountain Hualalai and da one who make all da kapa fo’ herself an’ her sistahs; Waiau, da goddess of da mountain lake named aftah her; an’ Lilinoe, da goddess of da mist, an’ of dead fires an’ desolation. Some guys call Lilinoe da goddess of Haleakalā, but she only come visit once in a while, like fo’ couple, t’ree wintah days, ev’ry few years or so.
Even dough Poli‘ahu an’ Pele no like each oddah, dey get plenny stuffs in common. I no like talk no trash, but ev’rybody know dat da two a dem is very, whatchoocall . . . experienced. Passionate, li’dat. An’ jealous. Dey can hold grudge, too. You cross da line wit’ either one, an’ fo’ sure you goin’ get burned. Or iced out.
‘Aiwohikupua was one handsome young ali‘i, one high chief of Kaua‘i. He had plenny experience too. One time, he wen’ come visit Maui, and when he reach Hana, he wen’ meet one ali‘i wahine, one chiefess named Hinaikamalama. Some guys say he wen’ fall in love, oddah guys say he wen’ lose one bet wit’ her. Either way, no mattah; he wen’ get engage to da Maui girl.
But befo’ da wedding, ‘Aiwohikupua wen’ sneak away fo’ go cruise aroun’ da Big Island. Ovah deah, he seen one gorgeous young wahine wearin’ one snow-white cape, restin’ on da rocks at Hamakua. Was love at first sight, an’ dey wen’ get married right den an’ deah. Dat day, da snow on Mauna Kea wen’ covah da mountain an’ reach down almost all da way to da beach. Dass ‘cause Poli‘ahu’s t’ree sistahs all wen’ come down fo’ celebrate her wedding. Aftah couple, t’ree days of party, ‘Aiwohikupua went take his bride back to Kaua‘i wit’ him.
His friends was ready wit’ one humongous lu‘au, but had one uninvited guest. Hinaikamalama wen’ come from Hana fo’ make one big stink. She wen’ tell ev’rybody dat ‘Aiwohikupua had promise himself to her, mo’ first. He was all shame, an’ his friends told ‘em he gotta do da right t’ing an’ marry da Maui girl.
So da peepoh of Kaua‘i wen’ get ready fo’ one mo’ wedding, but ev’rytime da couple try fo’ get togeddah, dey would get hit by waves of freezing cold, an’ den burnin’ heat, back an’ forth. Hinaikamalama no could stand da extreme weather, an’ she wen’ go back Maui by herself.
Poli‘ahu wen’ wrap ‘Aiwohikupua an’ his friends in her snow-white cape, until all dem was jus’ about froze to death. Den she turn her back on her unfait’ful husband and she wen’ go home, nevah to come back Kaua‘i again. An’ dass why Mauna Kea is da only place in Hawai‘i where you can see one White Christmas.