Growing up in da ‘āina, was a big deal when people from da mainland wen come ova to visit us. No mattah if our friends wen come by ship oa plane, was still one exciting time, cuz back den, living in da middo of da Pacific Ocean stay pretty far away.
Of course, us keeds knew da tradition of giving one lei to new arrivals, so da day befoa our friends wen come, we wen run up da street to Mrs. Faruya’s hale. Why? Cuz in her front yard was dis bambucha orchid garden, nani purple orchids growing in profusion. She always wen encourage us to come ova and pick some of dem foa lei when dey stay blooming. I no can rememba a time when we had peeps coming ova and da orchids no stay blooming.
We wen go up and knock on her door and ask if we could pick da orchids. Always we wen ask first. Always we wen bow. And she neva wen tell us “‘a‘ole”; was always “‘ae”, with one big smile on her face.
So gently, we wen pick some orchids foa nā lei. Alla time we stay aware to pick um randomly so no look like too many stay missing. To dis day, I can rememba da magic of standing in da middo of da orchid garden, feeling like I was in one orchid kine heaven, surrounded by da nani purple pua.
We wen bring pepa bags foa put nā pua in, and we wen carefully lay alla orchids in da bags, only taking enough foa make howeva many lei we wen need. We wen have ferns at home foa fill in.
When we stay pau picking, we wen go back to da front door foa tell Mrs Faruya “mahalo nui” foa da orchids and wen bow again. We wen show her wat we wen pick and who stay coming da next day. Smiling, she wen tell us our friends going be so hau‘oli about dea lei.
Den we wen run back home, and in da front yard undaneet da mango tree, oa sometimes on da kitchen table, we wen string nā lei. Us keeds neva have long lei needos, we just wen use regulah sewing kine we wen temporarily kakaroach from our maddah’s sewing basket. We always wen puttem back so we no get dirty lickins!
Pau make nā lei, we wen puttum in plastic bags in da fridge foa da next day. And da next day, when our friends wen get off da plane, we stay da first ones dea, putting one lei around each person’s neck, giving dem honi and telling dem, “Aloha! E komo mai i Hawai‘i nei!”.
Wheneva I think of dem days, my heart stay so full of aloha foa Mrs Faruya, dat wahine so full of aloha foa da brown-skinned local keeds who like pass on aloha to dea friends from da mainland. Today, I wish I could go back to Mānoa Valley and wit one honi, one whispered “aloha” and one hug, give to Mrs Faruya one nani orchid lei.