May 04, 2018
Because Mother's Day is coming up we asked our Head Jewelry Maker, Jana to share her memories of Mom and her first "hike" along the Old Pali Road in Hawaii. Our Wander Where There is no Path Collection features images from the Pali Road hike in the Nuuanu Valley of Oahu. (And makes a great gift for Mom!) Take it away Jana!
My parents must have been testing the stroller they bought me and twin sister for all-terrain functionality; they broke in the tires on the Old Pali Road, pushing us over cement cracked like the desert floor, pothole-pocked, and gravel-strewn. At a few months old, we had known nothing save the smooth sailing of family arms and car seats. Now, though, we were bouncing down a crumbling road, our fat cheeks wobbling as we rolled further into the rainforest. We - I, rather - handled the situation with admirable stoicism. In the photos, my parents beam while my sister looks like she’s on the verge of a squall as I examine my cuticles or contemplatively suck my pacifier.
I regret to say that I outgrew my stoicism. Although I am highly active now - walking up the four flights of stairs to the Foterra studio, I find a kind of grim pleasure in my burning glutes - as a child, I sorely wished I could still go through life in a pram. Not least on family hikes. The Old Pali Road was a favorite, I suspect, at least in part, because it is not too strenuous and therefore less likely to make my once-stiff upper lip tremble. Usually, I was a trooper, wheezing along with only the occasional bout of whinging, but when we hiked up in the rain to show some visiting family friends the view from the top, what little resolve I had broke. Tramping up a mountain - even one with a semi-paved trail - in the wet and the wind and with a mean denim-chafing situation brewing was a trial not to be borne without sniveling. As we rose higher into the clouds that had built up around the Ko’olaus, the mist thickened around us, shrouding the views we had come for so that all we could see were the trees and the foliage. I remember everyone else enjoying themselves, each finding something to marvel at; I just wanted to be back in the car, driving toward somewhere warm. In hindsight, I realize how cool it is to be rained on before the water molecules had a chance to form droplets. In getting soaked to the since at the source, I beat the weather to the punchline.
“I love your mother 99 out of 100,” my father sometimes says. She loses a point because she refused to cut down the mango tree in our backyard so he could plant an avocado tree in its place; it offered the only shade and without it, she would be the one broiling in the sun as she watched my sister and I toddling around the lawn. It wasn’t a total loss because, when we were older and could walk ourselves, it meant a wholesome family outing to scavenge that green gold. We parked our car at the foot of the Old Pali Road, skirted the fence, and walked up the mountain armed with a picker and plastic bags. Today I asked my father whether this was legal. The parking situation, no, but once your were past that violation, the fruit was fair game. “It really became a matter of who had the longest avocado picker. And I did,” he said. The one he gerryrigged, an old mango picker with rusted claws duct taped to several mop handles, must have been at least, he reckons, 24 feet tall when held overhead. Now that the avocado bubble has burst, God do we miss the days when you didn’t need $5 a pound, but a claw on a stick, “a good eye and a steady hand.” I may not have as many avocados, but joining Foterra, I came ready with the keen gaze and tremor-less fingers needed to carry out highly detailed work with an exacto knife.
When I first saw the Old Pali Road jewelry, it took me a few seconds to realize what I was looking at. It’s almost as exciting to see this familiar mountain from a new perspective as it is to stand at the top. Okay, that’s a lie. Running along the lookout on a blustery day, jumping as the gusts come - that’s exhilarating. But looking up at the peak I’d looked down from so many times, that is sweet and warming and I can imagine all of my old selves there at once, too small in the photo to see, but there, still, jumping, picking, tramping, cruising in a buggy.
My mom loves flowers and when ever I give them to her, I know the smile is genuine, masks no deflated hope that this year she’d get something else, something that won’t fade and leave petals on the table top. Still, I love having memories of my first days, my early days, my present days in a piece that I can carry with me. I think she would too.
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