Hawaiian yellow hibiscus

IMG_2586Hawaii’s state flower is the yellow hibiscus. The large flowers are four to six inches in diameter and often have a maroon-colored center. The flowers seem to open and close at certain times each day. Bright, cheery and oh so photogenic, it’s worth taking a moment to stop and smell the flowers when you stumble upon yellow hibiscus in Hawaii.

Yoga by the sea

yogamaunalauniWhere we live, the weather forecast calls for snow, sleet and ice, so I am desperately trying to hold on to the memories of yoga by the sea.

It would be difficult to think of a better location for yoga than Hawaii. This photo is from a morning beach yoga session at the Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island. You do not need to be staying in the hotel property to participate. You may purchase one class or a package at the Manua Lani Fitness Club. One session is currently $16, a package of 5 is $70 or a package of 10 for $120. To purchase a session or package, just stop by the Mauna Lani Fitness Club.

Considering that a yoga class at my favorite local studio is $15, I would call this a bargain.

The instructors were terrific. My favorite line was when one instructor said, “This is not New York City yoga. This is Hawaii yoga. Breathe. Relax. Look at the whales jumping out of the water.” And just like that, there they were. Whales frolicking and playing in the sea close enough for us to relax and deepen into our pose. Unforgettable. This is my kind of yoga practice.

North Kona-20130306-00570There are many other places on the Big Island offering yoga. Here’s a shot of another outdoor studio in Keahou at the Sheraton Kona Resort & Spa at Keahou Bay.

During the 60-minute beachfront practice at the Mauna Lani, the morning sun shifted in the sky. The milo tree provided a shady outdoor studio. This is a memory that keeps me going as we wonder when spring will arrive in the Upper Midwest.


Stop and smell the plumeria

ry=400-4Experts say that the sense of smell is closely tied to memory. One of my favorite scents in Hawaii is plumeria. When you step off the plane after a long flight, the smell of flowers is one the most welcoming things about the Aloha State.

You will find plumeria in yellow, pink and other colors. The yellow plumeria flowers are my favorite and they seem to make some of the most fragrant leis. If you find one at a local farmers’ market, you will not regret buying it.

In March, we found a yellow plumeria lei at the Farmers’ Market on Ali’i Drive in Kailua-Kona on the Big Island. The man who sold it to us had just made it. It was, perhaps, the best $7 I had spent all winter. Even after it had dried, it still smelled wonderful.

The Hawaiian people love their flowers. Many Hawaiians wear flowers in their hair. This may be one reason why Hawaii was ranked the happiest state in the country in a recent article in The Atlantic.


The long and winding road

Big Island 2012 037

This path is one of my favorite morning walks on the Big Island. The colors, the flowers, the beautiful sounds of the sea, it combines so many things I love about Hawaii.

Today, in the Midwest we are expecting rain and possibly snow. It’s April. I can’t complain, as there are so many things we love about living here, but I am desperate for color and signs of spring. The weather forecast for where we live shows a bright sun now and 27 degrees, turning to mostly cloudy by this afternoon with a high of 44 degrees, followed by rain later this evening and all day tomorrow.  April showers bring May flowers, I know. But still, it’s been a long, snowy, cold winter and I’m done with it. I just want to take a walk without gloves, a jacket and mittens in April. Is that too much to ask?

In Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, the temperature right now is 71 degrees at 3 a.m. with a forecast of 83 and sunny for Friday. Saturday’s forecast is for 84 and mostly sunny and Sunday’s calls for 82 and sunny.

There are parts of the Big Island and other islands of Hawaii where it rains constantly. Even if you are visiting, you really don’t mind since the rain makes for a gorgeous lush landscape and there is almost always a rainbow to discover somewhere in that rain. A hike in the rain with 78 degree weather is still magnificent, rain or shine.

Ah, paradise.