One of my favorite places to go as a kid, was to my grandparents’ retired farm on Maui, Hawaii located in a tiny, rural town about 30 minutes from the only airport on the island. Usually, my brother and I would get to spend a few weeks there with our parents, grandparents, and our close first cousins also from California. Spend just a few hours there and you feel like the rest of the world becomes nonexistent. You forget about your cell phone, your computer, and any other electronics or store-bought toys you might have brought along because there is simply too many things to do. (Also, there isn’t any cellular service and they just got- well “borrowed” WiFi from the next door neighbor a few months ago.)
The property used to be a working pineapple farm and my mom and her siblings would fly to Maui every summer to help harvest the pineapples and take them to the factory/cannery down the road. Now, it is just occupied by Grandpa’s collection of trucks, cars, and other large assorted equipment, like a backhoe and ride-on lawn mower. Anyhow, whenever we visited with our cousins, the first stop was to look for the chickens who roam the property (REAL free-range chickens). The chickens could always be relied on to show up for feeding time usually consisting of seeds and leftover cooked rice. At night, the chickens go up into the orange tree above the garage and early the next morning, you can hear the rooster and the rest of the flock clucking and jumping from the tree onto the garage roof then onto the ground to wander around and wait for a potential breakfast.
After the chickens went off to do whatever chickens do during the day, it was time to go on our adventures. Usually, one of my favorite things to do was look for the small plants in the grass that have leaves which slowly close when touched. Afterwards, my cousins and I might go look around in the giant garage with all the large trucks and heavy equipment or search for a freshly fallen coconut along the fence line or a nice ripe papaya.
At some point during the day, the sky would suddenly grow dark and a warm shower of rain would pour down. These moments of just pouring rain could soak you before you had the chance to take more than a few strides but they were refreshing and wonderful. Every drop was warm so it didn’t matter if you were dripping wet because combined with the warm, humid Maui air, you never actually felt cold. We used to run around the wide open space in front of the house playing tag, running up and down the gently sloped hill, and losing our slippers in the process. But for each period of downfall (lasting 5-15 minutes or less), time froze and the simple joy of falling water became the only thing that mattered.
Once the rain stopped and everyone was thoroughly soaked, then came our parents’ difficult decision of whether to dry their soggy children off or just let them run around until they dry off on their own or it just begins to rain again. Honestly, I can’t remember what they did but they probably dried us off, we got soaked again, they gave up, then we sat on the porch until we were dry. What I do remember, though, is the aftermath of the rain. Everything seemed greener than before and always gave off the impression of renewal, especially the amazing rainbows that appeared as soon as the sun began to reemerge.
Between bursts of rain, one of the highlights of our stay was getting to ride on the backhoe, use the different buckets, and even drive the ride-on lawn mower around the property. Usually, we would stop for some bananas, coconuts, or papayas on our trip to eat later and occasionally take the stick with the basket on the end to pull giant avocados off the tree. Essentially, everything in Hawaii is massive – bugs, fruits, plants, etc.
The last activity that was essential to completing before we left, was to go fishing for little minnows that swim around in the incoming tide at the tiny, nearby beach. It was always a great deal of fun and a nice challenge to try to catch the tiny fish even if we only occasionally succeeded. Of course, we had to stop for guri-guri on the way home because no trip through town is complete without stopping for a cup of this delicious frozen treat.
So, what does a nice steady downpour remind you of? And what were your favorite places to go as a kid? Did you have any fun games or strange activities that you enjoyed?