Love at first sight

Not sure if I believe in love at first sight when it comes to finding that certain someone, but I sure do believe in love at first sight when it comes to places. For me, that place will always be Hawaii.

The past year has been a whirlwind. Almost too many milestones to digest at once: graduations, entering the empty nester phase, a couple of family health detours, new adventures and our self-proclaimed year of travel. Our philosophy on airline miles and hotel points? Use them now. Life is short and you never know. Carpe diem.

We went to Istanbul. We went to Greece, Italy and France. For my husband’s milestone birthday, we went Costa Rica. And then there was a trip to Oahu that we had planned for our anniversary in March: Now on hold with work and other obligations.

They say that April is the cruelest month, but I disagree. In the Midwest, it is March. February is a close second. The holidays have come and gone. The snow, cold and ice remain. Even in a mild winter, there is darkness. There is sleet. There is black ice on the roads. In April there is hope—the days finally seem longer after the cold and we rejoice in the fact that we’ve turned a corner. Although I painfully remember that we had snow in May of last year.

So, in the meantime, I think of my one true love. Yes, that would be this guy—the one I married on my first visit to the Island of Hawaii many moons ago. For anyone contemplating the idea of a Hawaiian wedding, I highly recommend Rev. Libby from Weddings A La Heart. Here she is with us on the Kohala Coast signing our marriage certificate—before they went electronic. Our ceremony could not have been more perfect. Love.

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For today, I’ll dream of the place in the world where it all began. The thermometer tells me that it is -2 degrees outside today. In my heart, it’s 78 with a light breeze. Happy Valentine’s Day. Aloha.

 

 

 

 

 

Tropical blue jade

The exotic blue jade is a tropical perennial plant. It is a climbing vine with vivid sea green-colored flowers. The green-blue unique color makes this plant stand out in any setting.

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Its flowers, typically two to four inches in length, are sturdy enough to be used decoratively to make gorgeous leis and other floral decorations. Although they are native to the Philippines, they fit in perfectly on the Hawaiian Islands. When you see them, they are a showstopper—one of those flowers to stop you in your tracks.

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Tropical fragrance of gardenias

The gardenia is a genus of flowering plants in the coffee family.  In Hawaii, there are several species of gardenia plants and they are known as na’u. The gardenia flowers have a strong, sweet fragrance that seems to last and last, even when cut. This bunch of gardenias is from the Keauhou Farmers’ Market on the Big Island. The fragrance from the brilliant white flowers lasted for days and days.

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Cabin fever

This just in from meteorologists in the Midwest: After this week, this winter will be one of the 10 coldest on record in the past 140 years. This bitter cold forecast adds insult to injury after a foot of snow and ice fell over the past week. All weekend, officials have been warning drivers to stay off the roads. “We continue to advise no driving,” is the headline this morning. “The roads are still awful.”

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This was the view above the Mississippi yesterday morning. A frozen sea of white, but at least we have a brilliant blue sky to help us get through the predicted low of -2 on this Sunday.

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The snow, heavy and relentless, made for harrowing commutes and window-high drifts. We are running out of places to put our shoveled snow. Here, we have tools like roof rakes to deal with ice dams and roof leaks from the melting and freezing.

Perhaps the most difficult part of our winter is that it’s only February. Last year we had snow in May.

IMG_0225Meanwhile, it’s comforting to know that elsewhere in the world, brilliant blue means something else. For example, on Hapuna Beach on the Big Island.

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Or, the stunning Kohala Coast of the Big Island.

Cabin fever has officially set it. This is when we find ourselves on vrbo.com, searching for a warm getaway. If someone has been lucky enough to escape the cold, this is not the welcome back you hoped for. Somewhere, under all of that, daffodils and tulips are waiting for spring.

On a Sunday morning, dreams of Hawaii get me through winter. We have Hawaiian music playing in the house. I may find some mac nuts and Hawaiian spices in the cupboard for creative cooking. Oh, and if anyone living on one of the Hawaiian Islands needs a gardener next winter, drop me a line.

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Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens in Hilo on the Big Island

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On Baynan Drive in Hilo on the Big Island, you will find a 30-acre garden of serenity in the Liliʻuokalani Park and Gardens. The park, which was originally built in the early 1900s, is reportedly the largest such gardens outside of Japan. You will find koi ponds, pagodas, bridges and other Japanese garden fixtures.

It’s a perfect place for a picnic lunch or a nice stroll, no matter what the weather. Hilo is often known as the rainy side of the Big Island, and this rain makes for some of the most gorgeous, lush scenery you will find on the Big Island. Lush, serene, tropical and beautiful.

The sweet smell of Hawaii

The minute you step off the plane, it welcomes you. What is it about the smell of Hawaii? Is it the fact that you are on a Pacific island with pure, light tropical breezes?

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DSCN2983Or, the flower-lined paths that warmly welcome you wherever you go? This path laced with Bougainvillea, is especially inviting. Everywhere you look, you see color. On the Big Island, the black of the lava, mixed with the ocean blues and tropical flowers, is especially inviting.

Or, is it one of the world’s sweetest scents of all—plumeria? The yellow ones seem to make the most fragrant leis. When you see them in a natural setting, it’s one of life’s best reminders that you should never get too busy to stop and smell the flowers.

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Orchid House on Lana’i

While the Polar Vortex of 2014 brings record-breaking, dangerous and bitter cold to much of the United States, it’s nice to know that there’s a place on earth where orchids bloom year-long in paradise—a flower lover’s dream come true.

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On social media today, the comments about the cold snap are filled with humor: “Actual thought in my head just now: -14 degrees, that’s not too bad. What’s wrong with me?”

“Strangely, -14 isn’t really that bad if the wind isn’t blowing.”

And the one that Midwesterners often ask ourselves this time of year, especially when we are dealing with a predicted high of -13 for tomorrow: “Why do we live here again?” (Usual answer: Family, roots, the people, or the glorious fall and summer weather. And, even today, it’s brilliant and sunny despite the Polar Vortex gloom and media reports.)

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So it’s nice to know that somewhere out there, on the meticulous grounds and gardens of the Lodge at Koele on Lana’i, sits an Orchid House filled with hanging and potted orchids and tropical flowers–yet one more reason to love the Aloha State.

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Yellow flowers in Hawaii

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Yellow flowers represent friendship and happiness. In contrast to the deep blues and greens of Hawaii, the yellow flowers easily catch your attention and make you want to stop and admire them. The first four are yellow flowers in Maui. The fifth photo is one of my favorite yellow flowers we saw in Lanai: the popcorn orchid.IMG_6559