Mornings on Kauai mean fresh air through open doors, sunshine, birdsong, and big rumbling breakers – some days muddy from rain in the night, most days crystal, tropical blue. One morning my phone rang – an old friend, calling from snowbound Alaska. Hearing where we were, she said, “Oh I’m such a nester, I love to be in a familiar place – and that must happen if you go back to the same place for many years!”
When we first came to Kauai, more than 30 years ago, we stayed down south, at the Garden Isle Beach Apartments. The little cabins had limited hot water, an outdoor telephone on a pole under a thatched roof, and scuttling things I never wanted to see too clearly in the chest of drawers. Sometimes we stayed in a building that jutted into the sea – other times in the jungle across the narrow road from tiny Baby Beach. We thought it was heaven!
We were sad when those buildings blew away in a hurricane, and began to come to Lae Nani, a condominium complex on the East Coast of Kauai. Lae Nani means “beautiful point of land” in Hawaiian, and nearby is a sacred and protected promontory.
Hawaii is directly south and temptingly close to Alaska, and winter breaks to Kauai traced the growing up of our children. The year our younger son was four (chicken pox and all the Oz books). The year a grandfather came from Kansas. Years of high school homework and college Christmas breaks. Trips were always flavored by palms and papaya and changing tastes in evening entertainments – one year all the Godfather movies, this year the Downton Abbey finale. On this trip our Alaska daughter-in-law said now she begins to measure her life changes by Kauai visits – from before wife to new mother.
A monk seal, another returnee, frequently hauls up on the beach after a long night. It lies in the sunshine, secure behind yellow tape keeping people away, volunteer watchers standing guard. This year the seal lay in the sand in the sunshine, its face toward the water, a few waves bobbling its head as the tide came in. In spite all the differences, it reminded me of Lady Baby snoozing. It’s always tender to watch the up and down of a sleeping creature’s chest.
Others surf and body surf, hike through old water tunnels, play tennis or golf – I am easily pleased by the farmers’ market and grocery store, daily walks, hours and hours of reading, and one trip north and one south to sit on the beach and watch the surfer.
But the best this year was being with Lady Baby as she, like me, savored everyday life in a warm (no mittens, no hats, no socks – no sleeves!) and welcoming place.