LAHAINA - The experience of column writing continues to amaze. At the Maui Chefs Present food fest a few years back, Richard Endsley, recently named an outstanding older American of Maui County, offered a memorable quote while collecting tickets.
"We thought we came here for the beauty. It turns out we came for the beautiful people," he said. (The Endsleys are now among them.)
This columnist, looking forward to the seventh birthday of "Voices of Maui: Beyond the Beach," could say the same thing but with an addition: "We also came for the community."
Auntie May (left), holding little Zane, watches a guest take a pony ride at Zane’s first birthday bash.
It is so easy to become involved in this small town. If you are retired, there are plenty of ways to volunteer. So when people look at your gray hair and ask, "Are you retired?", it can be easy to say, "Not really."
Among my frailties is not being able to recognize people or remember names. This poses a problem when your photo is in the paper frequently. Is a hello from someone known, or is it simply from someone who likes the column?
An emerging conclusion is what a wonderful community this is. There are many unsung heroes - people over many years who volunteered to help with canoe festivals, "A Taste of Lahaina," progressive dinners, tutoring, coaching, mentoring high school students and more.
The beauty of writing an unpaid freelance column is the freedom - with the editor's blessing - to write about almost anything. A column like this one can be written in about 90 minutes. A profile of somebody takes much longer.
In the case of a lei lady being profiled soon, a tour of where she goes, an interview, typing notes, research, follow-up questions to help capture the person in full, then the writing, rewriting and proofing, and the photography... then the column is done.
The beauty is also that there are no assignments. If I run across something that deserves to be written about - and no one else will be there - I can do that as well. So that's a little "inside dope" for loyal readers who might wonder how you get what you read in this space.
PONIES NEAR THE BEACH PATH: Kaanapali is increasingly becoming a happening place. Walking from Starbucks on Sunday, two ponies were spotted ambling on the luau grounds at The Westin Maui Resort & Spa - an obvious photo.
In Hawaiian tradition, first birthdays are a very big deal. They are in India, too, where Zane Nolan's mother was born.
Celebrations stem from the old days in Hawaii, when a goodly portion of newborns did not survive 12 months. So, if you live here, you are likely to put on a big first birthday bash.
Angela and Fernando Nolan (she is with Maui Kaanapali Villas, and he is director of leisure sales at Starwood Resorts) opted for the spectacular for son Zane: 100 attendees, pony rides for keiki, goats, balloons shaped like cows and pigs, banners, food and entertainment.
An auntie, one of many, invited the columnist in, because "I read your column." More photos for my new site,
KaanapaliCondoNews.com, and the cake was good, too. "It was a little over the top," said one guest.
A STAR IS BORN: It's been like the "old days" at the Kaanapali Beach Hotel courtyard with a new kind of vibe. Vibraphonist/uke player Rudy Aquino, who visitors still ask about, retired in 2008 after 15 years on stage, 52 weeks a year. Among his trademarks: funny banter and inviting keiki and adults to learn hula.
The new good vibes come from KBH Activity Desk Manager Mikala Nolan (no relation to the birthday family), who has been brought in to narrate the nightly 6 p.m. hula show. Last week, the place swarmed with keiki who couldn't wait to get on stage (photos also on the blog).
Sample commentary: "You've heard of 'The Little Mermaid?' We have a mermaid story, too. We had a lot of military here. (Our mermaid) would come out in the full moon and entice the sailors. I don't know what kind of mermaid she was, but they are not coming back."
On limu (seaweed): "You call it kelp. Ours is prettier than yours."
To keiki leaving the stage: "Don't forget your shoes!"
On the more serious side, Mikala also is good at explaining the meaning of Hawaiian songs. His appearance is deemed an experiment, but this is one experiment that should become a permanent gig.
(E-mail email@example.com with ideas or comments.)