I sit here on this wintry-cold night in Virginia, mid-way between Christmas and the New Year, my mind reaches back to years past when this time of year meant soft sand and warm sunshine for me. You see, for many years running, I had the good fortune of spending the Christmas holidays on the lovely Hawaiian island of Maui.
Tonight I am reminded of a particularly memorable day on the 22nd of December, 2002. It warms me just to think of it. Maybe it will do the same for you.
It is Sunday, December 22, 2002 and we now have been on the island of Maui for a week and two days. We have driven about in a rental convertible doing the usual things: photography, snorkeling at Kapalua Beach, the flea market, the Christmas Craft Fair, and today: breakfast at the Wailea Renaissance Hotel for smoked lox and cream cheese and bagels and roast beef hash.
The Renaissance Hotel, a place we stayed once in the late eighties (it was called Stouffers then) when we were flush and at the top of our game, is a fabulously decorated and appointed palace with exquisite service in the main lounge and similar, but more casual, service at the Maui Onion, a restaurant in the garden somewhat nearer to the beach. A place we liked to visit once a year and spend a few extra bucks for the grand treatment and a perfect breakfast. Here the main lounge restaurant is open on three sides and is an extension of the main hotel entrance but one level down. You approach via a grand central staircase with a life-size, hand-carved outrigger teak canoe hanging above and an unfolding, stunning view of the gardens,
the beach and blue-green waters as you descend the stairs. The place has an all-marble facade with great columns, wide open with the outside-in, the native birds have complete freedom and little fear of humans. There is a buffet with all you can imagine on it and a small golden rail at each end lined with a row of sparrows hoping you will throw them a crumb. One cute feathered friend stands bravely on the edge of the bowl of butter pads—his beak butter yellow—helping himself to fat food! Despite our presence the birds remain but seem to know their place and are not too offensive. As usual the breakfast was scrumptious. Susan orders lox and bagels and I ordered roast beef hash and poached eggs—made here in the Islands like my New England Mother made them in the late forties and early fifties—from left over roast beef dinner. These accompanied by a side of raisin toast and Maui’s fabulous Kona coffee. After breakfast we walk around the grounds and gardens, then step out onto our favorite beach in Wailea (on the southwest coast of Maui), famous for pure white sands;
clear, clear blue waters; and gentle but entertaining surf.
The weather was pristine… tooo pristine in fact (not that I wished to tempt fate) but I need big bumbly clouds to make great pictures and absolutely blue skies with haze don’t always make for great photos. One thing about this beach is that it is not known by many people, though it is a public access beach, and rests in front of some pretty spectacular “Malibu” type homes that provide a barrier to—well let’s say the less fortunate in our society—so you mingle here mostly with the upper crust. The result being that the beach isn’t too crowded and the coral has not been picked over and ripped apart like it has at some other beaches.
The upper crust are OK as long as you carry a positive demeanor and don’t start comparing toys. One lady in a wide brimmed straw hat and a Santa Claus shaped body stuck inside a bikini, was walking twin army-brown colored standard poodles. “Halloo”, I called as one of the poodles, with a red bandana about its neck nuzzled my hand. The lady—playing throw the Frisbee in the waves with the other dog—assured me that the dog was “OK” and simply believes everyone on the beach anxiously awaits his arrival each day and he greets us each and every person whether we desire to be greeted or not. These were statuesque, well-behaved animals and mine clearly carried himself as if he were of royal blood.
My attention was drawn to a videoing father nearby who called over and over to his infant son “Samson, Samson, Samson,” while the child, wearing a cool hat played in a puddle of seawater. The kid couldn’t care less as he has a lovely yellow shovel, sand and water and a giant yellow bucket in his world and that was all that mattered to him. We would all do well to be so content with such simple pleasures.
“The Octopus and I!”