Round Trip, Full Circle

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Story by Diane Haynes Woodburn | Photo by Nina Kuna

Diane Haynes Woodburn“Diane, come,” my husband calls from the porch, where he has ensconced himself in liliko‘i (passion fruit) processing mode. “Taste this purple one!” Like a child with a bag of new marbles, Jamie is eager to share each treasure — most of them bright yellow, others apple green or deeply golden, and a special few plum purple — as he takes them one by one from a huge bucket. The bucket represents only a fraction of the two truckloads (over 1,000 pounds) he has collected from the Ke‘anae forest floor, an annual pilgrimage oft repeated during the summer months.

He couldn’t be happier. Jamie slices open the smooth egg-shaped orb to reveal a yolklike center dotted with black seeds. As the fruit falls open, juices ooze over the cutting board. He quickly grabs the halves, scooping their luscious content into a bowl. Once it’s filled, he pours the contents from the bowl into a food mill that separates juice from seeds. The result is a deep orange elixir of pure passion-fruit juice that Jamie will soon make into his Liliko‘i Butter. The olfactory overload is intoxicating.

As I join him to taste test (a job I covet), I remember a similar scene this time last year. I had complained that, while the staff and I were busy working on Maui No KaOis annual Travel Issue (and most of our friends working on their travel plans), Jamie and I would be staying on the porch. Not this year. In fact, by the time you read this, Jamie and I will be packing for a trip through France and Italy, exploring the wine country, olive orchards, cooking classes, and long walks on centuries-old paths. I’ll be reporting back to you, of course.

Hopefully, you’ll be packing a bag as well — even if it’s just to come down the mountain for a weekend (something we do often), to enjoy one of Maui’s world-class resorts. Check into our article on “Cool Pools & Hot Spas” that invite you to immerse yourself in utter relaxation. Rather be on the go? Our adventure story will take you upcountry, exploring a century of island history along Baldwin Avenue. Before you go, stop at one of the “5 Best” markets that dining editor Becky Speere reports on, and take a gourmet picnic with you.

Travel is good for the soul, it is said. Certainly that was true for ancient Hawaiians, for whom travel was both a physical and spiritual journey. I was reminded of that, July 11th, when the Mo‘okiha, Maui’s double-hull voyaging canoe more than eighteen years in the making, was launched from Mala Wharf under the leadership of Kimokeo Kapahulehua. (See page 24.) A lei piko (umbilical cord) made of braided ti leaves connected the canoe to the land, and it was a chicken-skin moment when it was cut, delivering the living vessel to its life at sea. “I was thinking of our ancestors who did this 600 years ago,” Kimokeo said, “and how a whole island came together to build and launch the wa‘a kaulua[double-hull canoe].”

In Hawaiian culture, the canoe is a living entity, a gift from the land, mauka, and born on the ocean, makai. I can only imagine what it was like, those hundreds, even thousands of years ago, when Hawaiian men and women would board the canoe to travel across entire oceans with nothing except what they carried in their canoe, and in their hearts. “The canoe is our family,” Kimokeo tells me. “We are nothing without the guidance of our kupuna, our ancestors. Connection with our past guides us to the future.” It is this sentiment that carries the Mo‘okiha forward, as a steward of Hawaiian culture, and a teaching lab for future generations.

Standing on our porch, I scan my garden below; a few brave roses reach long necks for their spot of sun, so shaded have they become by the riotous blooms of tibouchina, daisies, and agapanthus — a result of the rainiest summer Jamie and I can remember. In the far corner, however, the Cecil Bruner I planted a decade ago to remember my mother defies the bullying foliage and blatantly thrives.

I smile at the scene on the porch, and the garden below. I think of Kimokeo’s words and realize, for me, the best part of travel is always going to be coming home.

“So, what do you think?” Jamie asks, handing me another purple liliko‘i.

“It’s the best,” I answer.

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