For some, New Year’s Eve is the time to watch the shining ball drop (New York City), or maybe the fleur-de-lis (New Orleans), or the Music Note (Nashville), but for some, it may be the Hawaiian green flash. The first TGI Green Flash column came out last Jan. 6, focusing on “Believe in the unexpected.”
The story behind that first unexpected green flash my husband and I witnessed was recounted, and the symbol of the green flash (GF) became my column trademark, standing for something a little beyond regular news of the day, something to give you a brief moment of beauty, or glimpse of something not so humdrum, a flash of insight, or a shift toward more critical thinking. It went along with The Garden Island’s stated mission to bring our island’s people more good news and focus less on what was disappointing, shocking or aberrant.
Here is the original poem written about the event, which occurred on Christmas Eve of the New Millennium on the west side of Molokai. The phenomenon was viewed and celebrated by my husband and myself — former skeptics — the lone strollers on Kepuhi Beach on a holiday spent off-island. The poem was published online by permission in October 2007 by Kauai Backstory, and earlier, copyrighted in my book of modern chants and cultural information, “Behold Kauai, Modern Days — Ancient Ways” (TropicBird Press 2005).
Sandals sliding along
the sloping mat of grass
toward the curve of sand,
warm, your hand in mine,
salt breeze rumples our hair, chills our skin
as the sun falls out of a winter solstice day —
last of the century.
We do not hurry toward sunset.
The spangled sea splashes foam,
dashes, lays bare
walls of buried sandstone.
High waves launch a steady assault
against the black and jagged cliff
that marks the end of the beach.
Cloud veils sift, the sun bounces once,
rays stabbing the line of cool blue at the western edge,
settles, slims to a narrow disk,
and thinner still — a fiery slice
slipped below horizon,
transformed, becomes an emerald prism.
We blink and stare
held by the spell of that slow jeweled wink,
stand vesper still,
then lift our arms, whoop, giddily spin,
splashing along the silver fringe
of the cove’s dusk roll and tumble of velvet purple.
When colors merge to gray on gray
your fingers lace through mine,
leading me home slowly.
As if at a signal
we both glance back toward the darkened portal
of that iridescent green flash
we’ve longed to see
but half-believed as myth
and only, now, perceive as lucid magic
presaging our new millennium gift.
After publication of that Jan. 6, 2014 GF, it was a thrill for me to receive some fan mail — the first, from a Wailua Homesteads non-believer who enjoyed reading but wasn’t necessarily (yet) ready to “believe in the unexpected” — still considering the “myth.” The second, from a Kalaheo-based firm believer who not only had seen a GF, but on the cusp of 2014 (what timing).
“We saw one New Year’s Eve out at the small boat harbor between Kekaha and Waimea. It was clearly defined and seemed to hover momentarily before fading. Salt Pond is also a good place to spot them if conditions are right. There was a moonbow out there one evening when we were there. We also experienced a tornado there.”
The mention of the tornado at the end of this reader’s sightings created the tension between poles of nature, for sure. But (you might guess, dear readers) my focus has been watching for moonbows this past year.
Also, thank you to my readers for your written and personally told commentary and encouragement regarding GF contents from “An afternoon along the Eastside” through “ ‘Lovers’ Moon’ and a confession” and “Loving that lilikoi” and more, to “Happily repurposing …” and “Report shocks during the season of ‘Joy to the World.’” I truly appreciate you, and TGI Editor-in-Chief Bill Buley and Managing Editor Tom Hasslinger. (Thank you, dear editors!)
On a different note, my deep gratitude to Waimea Police Officer Magayanes, who not only recovered my fanny pack and all its contents from the Lucy Wright Park restroom after a careless forgetting, but arranged to drive to the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center to meet me. This was late on a not-too-distant Friday evening, to help me. I was able to retrace my path westward from Lihue and banish my worried state about having no license/identification/credit cards over a busily scheduled weekend. And a healthy and joyful new year to all!
Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, regularly instructs on the topics of history and Hawaiian culture for visitors to Kauai through Hawaii Pacific University’s “Road Scholar” program through Pacific Islands Institute. The writer is hard at work now completing her second memoir, based on the Burma of pre- and post-World War II times, toward Burmese independence. She continues to run her TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations-Kauai under DAWN Enterprises.