The Magpie took a break recently to visit family and the beloved isles of our fiftieth state, Hawaii. I could have shown pictures of frosty, fruity beverages with little umbrellas in them, or shots of my feet happily standing in the surf, but I think the thing that people sometimes forget abut Hawaii is the wealth of natural landscapes that bless this amazing string of islands in the Pacific, and the beautiful spell these islands cast on a person willing to let themselves be overwhelmed by it.

We admired the lush tropics on Oahu, spending a few days in Kaneohe with family. Taking in a local botannical garden that my cousin labored on under the guise of a Girl Scout project many years ago (they still owe you a merit badge!), it was a rich collection of local plantlife that suggests a Hawaii before settlers came and agriculture dominated the land. There is a natural sweetness in the air that is difficult to describe unless one has experienced it. Fragrant and saturated with the air's moisture, it seeps into one's sense memory and with any luck, never leaves. I'll sometimes get a fleeting moment of deja-vu in the Pacific Northwest, when the damp scent of the saturated ground and trees release their loamy bouquet after a heavy rain.

Kayaking in Kaneohe Bay, off the coast of the island of Oahu, we paddled the currents to wander around a small bird sanctuary island. The protected home of shearwaters, local birds who lay their single eggs in vulnerable shallow holes in the ground, we stepped carefully and did some wandering around the island's perimeter. Wearing the unofficial footwear of Hawaii -- flipflops or zori -- I was unprepared to scramble around the rocky shores, but Mr. Magpie's sure-footedness and patience captured a moment of the surf crashing on the volcanic shore. This was a reminder of Hawaii's ever-changing landscape, always at the powerful sculpting hands of a surrounding sea.

We left the forests and oceans behind on Oahu, and descended into the arid, Martian-like crater of a volcano on the island of Maui. Over ten thousand feet in elevation, rising above the clouds, we traveled to the summit of Haleakala, the House of the Sun, and rode horses into the dormant crater's bottom. Large enough to fit Manhattan, the crater floor is like its own separate world, with unique vegetation like the rare single-blooming silversword plant, and home for wayward wildlife like the Nene, a cousin to the Canadian goose who had found its way to this unique ecosystem. Saturated with iron-rich soil, red-oxidized cinder cones surround the crater with a landscape of color and shapes unlike anything seen before. Wandering in such a vast open environment, it makes a person feel small and puts the idea of a geological timeline in proper perspective.

Traveling to Haleakala, one sees the upcountry sights of Maui, a more peaceful yin to the busy yang of its beachy shores. This is another place full of memory. Many summers were spent in Makawao, a small rural town at the foot of the crater, wandering my grandparents' garden for vegetables grown from the rich red soil, and finding a simple peace in listening to the wind bring in a passing storm. Sometimes after a summer rain, the Cherry Valley outside our home in Duvall, with its high grass fields and skies that are both stormy and clear, reminds me of the upcountry Maui hills, and it's both a wonderful and bittersweet memory.

We took a lot of photos that were pieced together to make little panoramic creations. This Bird couldn't leave Hawaii without at least one viewing of the sun slipping into the sea, as we sat on the terrace of our hotel in Kaanapali, on Maui. And yes, we had frosty beverages in hand. Mahalo.

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  1. Beautiful pictures! I love Oahu soooo much, I graduated from high school there. It really is paradise; the most beautiful place I have ever lived.

  2. lucky miss! I'm swimming in chlorine water while you're swimming in haiwaiian beaches :) lovely photos!


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