|Hibiscus looks nice against volcanic rock.|
Reading The Folding Cliffs, about the history of Kauai in a setting that highlighted the lush landscape, took my imagination further along, to the point where I was willing and interested to visit.
Right out our back door there were spider lilies and red ginger, and multi-colored bougainvillea trained into shrubs. Along the roads hedges of hibiscus or bougainvillea or even more extravagant flowers let us know we were in the tropics.
|African Tulip Tree|
The writer of the plant guide we took to Maui was clearly biased against species that were not native, or that at least had been brought from other Polynesian islands long ago, but I admit to liking many of those plants very much. The African Tulip Tree makes lovely splashes of orange against the green landscape, and it at least doesn't seem to have spread into the weed category yet.
|Bougainvillea along roadway|
We'd heard reports of wild chickens being found all over Maui, and we were happy to see a lot of them on beaches, along streets, most anywhere. And other beasts who had no doubt escaped from households and barnyards generations ago.
On the drive to Hana we ate our lunch at a wayside park where a green lawn ran up the hill to a tall and thick forest -- or perhaps on that rainy stretch it would be called a jungle. I spotted chickens with shiny feathers up there, and walked up to try getting a picture. It was not to be: the closest bird disappeared behind some vines, I followed as quietly as I could and peeked under the trees, to see a couple of cats lounging there with the chickens. It was just a glimpse, and then the whole inter-species family was gone from sight.
|Where I saw cats and chickens|
|Feral chickens in Iao Valley|
My favorite animal sighting was in the Upcountry where there are farms and ranches with jacaranda trees catching your eye with their purple flowers. We drove past a large pasture with a herd of dark cattle grazing on the green, and as many white birds as steers walking around chummily in their midst. I assume that they are what has been sensibly named the Cattle Egret.
It seems that a lot of trees bearing flowers or fruits are so tall that it takes some trouble to harvest the crop. I asked the rosette-pinning woman (whom I tell about further down) if pickers use ladders to get the flowers from those tall plumeria trees, and she replied that they "mostly climb" to fetch them. Walking around Lahaina, we saw a man picking mangoes with a long pole contraption, and it's certain one would need a ladder or good tree-climbing skills to get papayas.
|tiny plumeria tree at center|
Plumeria! I'm in love with plumeria. I knew of leis, of course, and I'd heard that flower mentioned, but I had to go to Hawaii to see what a plumeria blossom looks like or get intoxicated by its scent. It was a surprise to find that these sweet flowers grow on trees.
I wish I had taken a dozen more pictures of plumeria trees. Many of the taller ones look at first glance as though they are some kind of dead thing, but then you notice the flowers at the tip of every smooth and bare branch.
We went to a luau where a girl in Hawaiian dress taught female guests how to stick plumeria flowers on to a toothpick to make a rosette, which she then fastened into our hair with a bobby pin.
When we had first arrived at the luau, I was given a tuberose, which I had been carrying around for a while, so I stuck that on to my toothpick as well, and while our taste buds enjoyed the traditional foods, my nose feasted on the rose and plumeria delicacies. I already have forgotten most of the food I ate, but the memory of my fragrant rosette lives on.