Guessing the greens

I enjoy mystery pictures — trying to identify them, that is. You know the kind, such as in travel magazines or brochures, where they show you a uniquely shaped peak, cliffed coastline or rock outcrop, identifiable pool or lagoon, street corner or monument. I’ll wager a wild guess, craning my neck to read the answer printed upside down, or thumbing quickly to find it on some obscure page corner. The challenge is in hazarding a guess, and promising that “one of these days” I’ll go there and see whatever-it-is for myself.

While mulling over my subject matter for this column during a twice-weekly three-mile walk, it came to me that I had taken a “mystery picture” in a place we don’t have to travel off-island to see.

Truth is, we may enjoy seeing the green area where these coconut trees were photographed as we pass by it, or perhaps, become better acquainted with it, whether as a place of recreation, health benefit, pure frustration, competition, or even as part of the staff on duty or seasonal workers. More soon, but first the photos.

Yes! I wish you could hear me say to those who have guessed correctly. Yes, yes and YES. Others will have to read on …

What’s with the trees? some might ask, and it isn’t even Arbor Day (yet).

(That’s right: Arbor Day in the U.S. takes place in April, while in Hawaii, in November because of ideal tree-planting season. And I very much like and admire trees, as answer to the possible question.)

Back to the subject photo, however: I have a few more clues before the answer is given. It was taken between a sweep of hills and busy highway and sand beaches that fringe the ocean. The coconut trees grow in a place associated with the number seven. Nearby, you could fool yourself that you were seeing a feature of Monet’s Givenchy garden. If you looked close, you’d spot apple snails and all manner of “the stuff of life” that would come into focus on a microscope slide. Nearby, you might see Hawaiian stilts, coots, gallinules, or an aukuu (heron), or some koloa ducks.

Further on, it might be nene geese – watch out, if they’re protecting their young, in nearby nests. You might also see the billowing sails of windsurfers, shoreline fisherman trying their luck, surfers and strollers with or without dogs. Definitely chickens, that is, hens and their roosters. Occasional wild cats with their kits firmly entrenched in thickets of naupaka (You might also notice that the cats are afraid of the “cheekens.”).

Other birds you might see in this place are winter visitors of kolea, regular colonies of raucous mynahs, feisty Brazilian cardinals, wooing-cooing barred doves, black-headed mannekins, and occasional ruddy turnstones. Seaward, it might be iwas or shearwaters. Then, whales (in season), and occasional sailboats and ships. Other trees you might see are old ironwoods, Norfolk pines, buttonwoods galore, hau and giant rubber trees. Flowers would range from wild Coromandel blooms through white oleander, plumerias, hibiscus. Plus etceteras of wild “spinach” and bumblebees.

Vehicles you would see peripherally are what you would normally see on a heavily traveled roadway. Just for the record (I have counted and surveyed numerous times while walking), SUVs and trucks far outnumber the rest, and white and silver win hands down as predominant colors.

What about people? You might see a hang glider bobbing in the updrafts and gradually gliding down to land. You might see some “incarcerated” citizens working in a garden, marching in rank, or playing volleyball (if they’re on good behavior).

People you would see closer at hand range in age from elementary school through their 90s, all usually enjoying and/or exercising in the outdoors. There is a plaque embedded for all to see that is dedicated to a lady who was a regular here well beyond her 100th year. There are visiting pros and semi-pros, high school students and their coaches, and a program involving youngsters, as well as public and private instruction going on at the tee.

Well, there you have it: The mystery picture was taken at our municipal Wailua Golf Course, recent host to the 16 collegiate teams that competed here during the Burns tournament. Wailua is recognized as one of the best municipal golf courses in Hawaii, as well as one of America’s best public courses. The U.S. Golf Association has held three National Amateur Public Links championships at Wailua (1975, 1985, 1996).

We can give thanks to the late Toyo Shirai – a member of the Hawaii Golf Hall of Fame – who redesigned Wailua into 18 holes in 1962, routing an entirely new back nine and redesigning the front side.

Kudos, also, to the dedicated staff that maintains the course so well. You can’t beat it for beauty and challenge, year-round health benefits, and for the many clubs and regulars that play the course, camaraderie and a distinctive brand of Zen practice.

Right now, watch out for the fronds and falling coconuts thudding to the ground along the fairways – regular safe maintenance. And watch for frantic flocks of white egrets dancing along the perimeters. You can bet those opportunists aren’t looking for four-leaf clovers!


Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, is at work now completing her second memoir, based on the Burma of pre- and post-World War II times. She continues as principal owner/agent for TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations-Kauai under DAWN Enterprises.


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