My kupuna Lani Akau once shared with me that every single sunrise and sunset is different, that every single one is unique, and that very mana’o has guided me since I was 18 to look at as many of them as I possibly can. The sun is rising later and setting earlier letting us know that the season of Lono is upon us. We are seeing so many signs of transition. It is the chill that is coming in on the strong Northeast winds. It is in the magnificent billowing clouds that stand like pillars of Kahiki. It is in the pull of the currents and the haunting calls of Nunulu that echo on the starry night sky. It is in the beloved sight of a lone Moli flying expertly above and landing in the fields of alena and nohu. I give thanks for all that my eyes have seen and all they will see.
I woke up early this morning and went outside to lift my offerings and pule. The horizon, lined with clouds, was embraced by the soft pink and purple light and I closed my eyes and breathed in the colors as Manu o Ku wings fluttered around my shoulders. The sun continued on his pathway until I could see bright orange brilliance peaking out above the horizon, casting rays into the incredible expanse. I thought of the Mo’olelo Ka’ao o Keaomelemele and all of the ways she lives in light as much as she lives in hula and I began to dance and chant. I could hear the pahu in the distance as I bent my knees, shifted my hips, and straightened my fingers as our mother taught me how. And when I looked around, everything was dancing too.
I then began to call up the genealogy of hula in my family but in a way that I never really have before. I thought about all the ways our mother was and always will be called to hula and how she became a kumu. Our grandmother drove her and our aunties to every single practice made food for them so they could be sustained as they danced in the blistering Kona heat, and sewed all of their pa’ū and regalia for every single phase of their journey. She believed in our mother as she went on to become a Kumu Hula and sewed pa’ū for all of her haumana. Then she did the same for all of her grandchildren. In my youth, I didn’t always see just how much the support of a mother means until I decided to carry that sacred role myself. And now, I see just how much the dreams of the next generation means to a Makua and how much I am willing to do to make sure that our children know that they are capable of realizing and living their dreams.
I see how much our Grandmother has influenced my life as I get older. I see it in the way I hold young ones in my arms just as I watched her do for my entire life, just as she did for me, her first Grandchild. She took care of countless children in our family and community. I see it in the way I lean on the sink the way she does when I wash dishes. I see it in the way I add salt, just like her, to the food that I cook. I see it in the way I hold my sister close when she is not feeling well or when she gets hurt just like she has held us. I see it in the way I hold the close pin in my mouth like I watched her do when I am hanging clothes. She taught me and continues to teach me how to walk through life tending to the everyday things we have to do with persistence and excellence. She is known throughout Waimea for her incredible skill of cooking and baking and I have never been more grateful than I am right now in this moment to have been so well-fed for my entire life by her. The more I experiment with cooking out here, the more I catch myself thinking, “what would Grandma make with what we have here?” I see Pumpkin puree on the shelf and can’t help but long for the Pumpkin Chiffon pie that she makes during the holiday season.
All of these reflections have got me thinking about our people, Hawaiian and Local, and how so many of the ways we show and give love are through food. We see it here, all around us every day as the birds swoop in from the heights after a long day of hunting to feed their young. I wouldn’t be here without the sustenance our Grandmother has fed me with food and in aloha. I am grateful for all the ways she passed that down to her children, to us, and to her Great Grandchildren. I can’t even put into words just how much it all means to me.
My word of advice is to give your thanks to the people who raised you and fed you while they can still hear it and feel it in this physical realm and then carry on that legacy in the way you do the same for the next generation. When I look out onto this land and see the way the birds love, I wonder to myself how many times these bird parents have come back here to reunite with their partners to gift life to the bird nation. Many of these birds are long-lived, meaning they are more like us than most think. Wisdom, a beautiful moli living on Kuaihelani has lived well over sixty years and has raised generations of Moli that we see today. There is so much that can be learned by looking up at life happening in and around us.
I hope you look up today and when you see the Manu o Ku flying between the tall buildings of Honolulu or the Kolea gathering at the shorelines, you don’t just see birds, you see legacy. I hope that you see it is a legacy worth protecting just like you see your own and maybe then, we will see that these birds are much like sunrise and sunset. Every single one is different, every single one has its own personality, its own spirit, its own soul. And their lives mean just as much as ours. They all have Grandmothers too, that lived and loved so that they could.
na Hawane Pa’a Makekau
La 7 o ‘Okakopa 2022