From the Publisher

1591

Diane Haynes Woodburn

Diane Haynes WoodburnI had imagined a Sunday all to myself—to work, think, maybe prune the rose bushes. But life was not cooperating. Our refrigerator/freezer had stopped working the day before. Evidently, so had every repairperson on the island. By midmorning my husband and youngest son were dragging a huge freezer (hastily purchased from a happy neighbor) to the utility room—where it would usurp my laundry table. This, to save the precious goods rapidly melting: liliko‘i concentrate, mango chunks, poha berries and other tropical fruits my husband harvests from our garden and expeditions into the jungle. He freezes this bounty in gallon bags for use in his homemade jams, chutney, and pies. Add to this the myriad containers holding his copious seed collection, and a half-dozen pheasant pelts he has stuffed into my freezer to later pluck for feather lei (hold that image in your head) and you can imagine how much room is left for my needs, i.e., food.

There is a theme here.

After ten years of wishing and planning, and launching the kids, I claimed the back bedroom for my home office. That lasted about a month. It is now occupied by my thirty-year-old son and his girlfriend, while our equally old cottage (soon to be his abode) is being refurbished. Although the tiny cottage is just 500 square feet, there is constant decision-making on design and purchases: Is it eco-friendly? Energy efficient? Affordable? Do we like the color? Boxes line our hallways, and although Jamie has an office, his files, hats, feather lei, tools, and assorted Hawaiiana unabashedly occupy any unclaimed surface.

My home office is now the kitchen table, which I share with stacks of mail, a flower arrangement, a few winter squash, and anyone who seeks food or company. “A room of one’s own” is as distant a concept as freezer space. Virginia, I hear you.

And everything else, too. I need an escape from the din. “Why would you take a walk now?” my husband asks, looking up at the cloud-filled sky. “Opportunity,” I reply.

As I crest the first hill, sunlight breaks through the mist with welcome warmth, and the scent of pine greets me. Winter has come to Kula. I inhale the cool air, and scan the trees for pinecones. I imagine others around the world enjoying similar simple pleasures and feel both renewed and connected.

Opportunity is sometimes as small as an idle hour to indulge in a solitary walk. Other times, opportunity can change the world.

This November, Hawaii will have such an opportunity when the state hosts some of the greatest economic minds on the planet. Delegates from twenty-one countries—representing half the world’s trade—will gather here for APEC, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit. Some 200 APEC delegates will visit our island, and—as Paul Wood writes in his piece on Maui’s historic Chinatown—pay respects to a former occasional resident who left a very big footprint on the world: Dr. Sun Yat-sen.

A smaller footprint—in carbon, at least—is one of APEC’s goals. Its agenda calls for encouraging investment in green industries and emerging economies. At a recent APEC meeting in Washington, D.C., Hillary Clinton commented, “That means we must decide how we will work together, what rules we will adopt, what principles we will abide by, and what behavior we will encourage and discourage in ourselves and in each other.”

Running the world, it seems, is not unlike running a household.

By the time I get back home, I see our family challenges in a different light. The poha, mango and liliko‘i will soon become jam and chutney—Christmas gifts prized by family and friends. My son is learning to restore an old house with emphasis on a small footprint. And Jamie’s seed collection may someday save a forest.

I’ll get that room of my own next year.

Wishing you the simple joys of the season—family, friends, pinecones, and jam. Add a sprinkle of love over all.

A hui hou!

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