Aloha to you -- this Bird has a childhood J'adore of old myths, and a recent trip to the tropical wonderland of Hawaii provided the opportunity to hear more Native Hawaiian stories that are associated with everything around the islands, especially the flowers that grow everywhere. Walk along the rocky shores and you'll find a waxy-leaved plant that grows among the cracks of the lava rock calld Naupaka Kahakai, meaning Naupaka by the sea. If you look closely, there are several tiny white, pinkish-purple blooms dotted all over the plants, but you'll also notice the flowers are unusually-shaped. Instead of a perfect symmetrical round bloom, these are distinctly half-moon shaped, as though someone cut each flower in half. Go higher into the mountains, and you'll find another type of Naupaka, looking nearly identical, except for the blooms, which also have the half-shape, but the direction of the petals take up the opposite side of the Naupaka that grows by the ocean.
There are scientific explanations of this, but I like the legend, which tells of two devoted lovers who arose the jealousy of the goddess Pele, whose fiery passions live within the volcano Kilauea. She became enraptured by the handsomeness of the young man, but he would not leave his lover, even at the risk angering such a tempestuous goddess. Pele was enraged at such a rebuff, so she cast her fury at the lovers, hurling molten hot lava at both, separating them and chasing the man into the mountains and the woman towards the sea. Pele's sisters watched this jealous rage and did not approve, wishing to rescue the lovers in the only way they could -- they saved the man by changing him into the mountain Naupaka, and transformed the woman into the Naupaka that grows by the sea. The lovers were saved from Pele's fire, but their beautiful flowers were only half, as each lover could not be truly complete without the other. The Naupaka grows in the mountains as well as by the sea, blooming only half-flowers, but the day the flower becomes whole is the day these lost lovers will be reunited.
Sad story, yes, but a bittersweet reminder to keep your loved ones close, cherish them dearly, and keep beauty in your heart for all days.
Jaunty Fine Print: photographs by Denise Sakaki