Sharing gratitude in this season of goodwill and plenty

Those catalogs and donation requests keep coming, even if you’ve removed your name from mail-out systems and requested removal from databases directly. As soon as November is in the air, this is the flurry most of us receive — instead of snow flurries. The daily mail yields requests for a wide spectrum of charities and worthwhile causes, everything from the food bank through paralyzed veterans and women working to empower themselves to medical help and relief overseas.

Beyond our personal knowledge of generosity and sharing on island, statistics have shown that Kauai people give an above-average amount in supporting worthy causes with money, goods and time. Most of us have favorite charities, local teams and hula groups, and schools we regularly support and feel warmly about contributing whatever the budget will allow. We’ve been warned about all types of clever scams to avoid while feeling like sharing our plenty with others less fortunate. These come by phone, too, via e-mail and even knocking at your door. Do beware of the “wolf” in sheep’s clothing when you’re feeling imbued with the ho-ho-ho feeling of goodwill.

It’s been heartwarming for many of us to hear about and read of our own keiki who transform the usual desire for acquiring gifts and toys into giving to those in need; of seniors who volunteer time to helping within the community at museums, hospitals and various centers; friends who make food and clothing available as giveaways and sponsor shelters; groups that weed the forest and protect endangered birds; busy workers who dedicate vacation time to sawing and hammering habitats or grooming beach parks and trails; musicians who sing and play for people in long-term care or in the care of Hospice; clubs and medical personnel that sponsor vaccines and operations for the needy; groups that craft warm gifts and pack surprises for our veterans.

There are many more acts of kindness and giving, also, to whom we offer our thanks, including kind neighbors and caring family members. Reading various stories carried by TGI in recent months is underlining my admiration for all these demonstrated ways of jumping onto the wagon of “charity begins at home” and flows on overseas as expressed by the caring energy of our citizens, youth to kupuna.

As we have shared our personal prayers of gratitude at our Thanksgiving meals and gatherings, the candles within our hearts have been lit. At this time in the world, many do not have the basics that give us a solid foundation: food and clean water, shelter, protective clothing, and a safe environment and society, more or less a way to earn a living and a chance at education.

This writer assumes that many will have asked within themselves, How is it that I have been born into a certain time, place, family and ethnic heritage? How is it that I merited the opportunities to help make me so fortunate? Looking at war-torn cities, overflowing refugee camps, unsafe vessels and ways of escaping to a chance at a better life, and disaster-stricken zones, serves further to highlight our own simple fortune. A simple turn of the wheel of fate or whatever personal beliefs may call it, and we might have been the people to live in the danger zones, and suffer thirst, hunger, lack of medicines and fear.

When the enormity of the problems of the world, our country, the island, and friends and family weighs on my shoulders, it is a calming and healing practice to walk barefoot in the grass of our garden space, breathe in the fragrance of green and growing things and touch their smooth, prickly, rough or soft surfaces. Green, after all, is said to be the color of life and healing. You might catch sight of me hugging a tree trunk, too, absorbing arboreal energy. The large ulu tree is a good one for this purpose. Its amazing leaves present smooth to sandpaper textural differences, while its fruit provides satisfying, nourishing food.

Here is an easy ulu recipe shared with me some years ago by my late hula sister Jesse Jardin, who was loved and admired by many besides myself. I share it with you now, just as she gave it. It’s a good way to eat, or take in, the power of healing green — via green breadfruit.

Jessie’s ‘Faux Artichoke’ Ulu Bake

This is using a green ulu (breadfruit): Oven at 350 degrees (325 degrees for glass/Pyrex dish)

Cut ulu in half, place face-down in greased pan with water in it (to keep from drying out) and bake until tender (test by poking in a fork), but “manageable” (not sloppy soft).

When cool enough to handle, cut off skin and slice into thin pieces, and then smaller, finger- size pieces.

Place in a covered baking dish; drizzle melted butter over all, then squeeze lemon or lime juice over all; salt and pepper, to taste (light).

OK I think that’s it … a good vegetarian “pupu” and can fool people. Enjoy!

•••

Dawn Fraser Kawahara, author and poet, is completing her second memoir. The writer, dba DAWN Enterprises, runs her service businesses — TropicBird Press and TropicBird Weddings & Celebrations-Kauai — kauaiweddingsandbooks.com. Watch for the launch of her new monthly travel column in TGI, “Faraway Places,” coming in January.

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