Parks & Recreation
MauiTime – December 9, 2010; Volume 14, Issue 25
By Anu Yagi
“I built my house from barley rice / green pepper walls and water ice/ tables of paper wood, windows of light / and everything emptying into white / a simple garden, with acres of sky / a brown-haired dogmouse / if one dropped by / yellow delanie would sleep well at night / with everything emptying into white.”
– Cat Stevens, “Into White”
When I was a little girl, my mom took my best friend Braxton and me to Kula’s Enchanting Floral Gardens. We’d just read Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden, so we strung ornate plastic keys from Ben Franklin on single-crocheted yarn lanyards and made an adventure of it (spoiler alert: the garden is no longer a secret at the end). Braxton, a boy, was kind enough to play along.
Since then (and owing to the fact that if there’s such a thing as a green thumb, my mom’s a martian), instead of counting sheep, I like to “landscape.” As I tuck-in under the sheets, I’ll start with the outermost edges of imaginary acreage, pulling weeds and planting orchards. I scheme for color and mood—melancholy groves of ‘ohia, sunny side-up expanses of pua kala—and carve out hidden alcoves in hillsides. By the time I’m puttering in herb gardens in the innermost of the lot, magic bean seedlings are already saplings and fast-thickening into trees that kiss the sky. And just in time for real ZZZs to take me away, I string up a hammock between the shadiest, sturdiest two and rock-a-bye to Dreamland.
But real landscaping takes real labor. Sweaty, gasoline-tinged labor. So while my circumstances are such that keyboard clickety clack is the extent of my cardio, I’ll placate myself with desktop succulents and cacti in thrift store mugs and sigh wishfully, thinking of things that may never come to pass.
Oases in paradise are like chocolate chips in cookies—superfluous yet essential bursts of sweet respite. Whenever we find them, they’re worth marking on our mental maps and (when appropriate) sharing the coordinates with others.
With that in mind, I’ve taken great joy in watching a reclamation/transformation take place in the vacant lot near our MauiTime offices, on the mauka side of Market Street.
Where once was an eyesore sandlot, leaseholders have laboriously rolled out a an emerald carpet of sod, built a Pa and tended to native plants. The area has been home to a beer garden (and it’s really, like, a garden) for four consecutive Wailuku First Fridays — the most recent being the biggest and best yet according to man-in-charge Kainoa Horcajo — and now boasts the beginnings of a beautiful mural by artists Lanakila Kelliher and Soup Xaypanya (pictured; who, over brew, told me the mural is planned to ensconce the entire lot, on every wall and concrete outcropping). It’s a privately owned space, so it’s not like you can just romp through at will, but it’s nonetheless a delight to walk past each day.
In a similar vein is the idea of community gardens. Local chefs recently partnered with Kihei Elementary School to help students grow a “pizza garden,” and Haiku Elementary School just last month debuted a garden of its own. Community crackerjack Matt Lane of Community Work Day (among other altruistic programs) has been hard at work planting the seeds for the upstart — plus securing the backing to make it happen — and has amalgamated a wealth of innovative concepts (like incorporating aquaculutre and limu composting) into designs that stand to make Maui an international example.
But I get nervous when I think of communal responsibility. Like the socio-economic philosophy that shares its name, it seems perfect on paper and impossible in practice. It’s the sort of thing I want so desperately to work, yet my thoughts are pocked with scenarios of greed, laziness, hurt feelings and disrepair. Yet I know when it comes to dreaming I’m not the only one, and with so many public/private spaces being reclaimed in an eco-centric way, prospects are more hopeful than ever. Now I just need to head to Ben Franklin and make some more lanyards. ■
P.S. The image at top was taken with my iPhone of 3D snowflake decorations at Swan Interiors, which celebrated its grand opening at this month’s Wailuku First Friday.