Savor the Mai Tai and Let Don Blanding's Poetry Inspire You
Photos by Phillip Roberts: (top to bottom) Hawaii's Signature Surf; Leis for Sale; Mai Tai Halekulani; Kahala Beach.
If you're a nature lover, there are so many things you can do in Hawaii. Aloha from the middle of the Pacific!
May Day is Lei Day in Hawaii
Lei Day is an amazing festival showcasing the flowers, aloha, and the beauty of the islands. There is a gigantic festival at Kapiolani Park. Hula and ukulele will fill the bandstand. The smell of fragrant flowers will be everywhere. It’s a great time.
The first "Lei Day" was on May 1, 1928, and except for a few years during World War II, has been celebrated ever since. "Lei Day" was suggested a few weeks before by Advertiser newspaper columnist, poet, and artist (2/13). Don Blanding. Blanding (1894-1957) was an amazing character. "The Vagabond poet," was a genius, smothered in a rogue, and then deep fried in a rapscallion. His verse and artistic contributions to the Hawai‘ian Islands are immense, yet he is mostly forgotten.
I recently bought a rare 11th edition of Blanding’s poems “Floridays” for a dollar at the local “Salvation Armani as-is” shop. First published in 1941, it contains his verse and illustrations about many odd subjects encountered during a July vacation jaunt through the Gator state; flamingos, fishing, storms, road signs, Sadie’s shell shack, alligators, key lime pie, flowers, and more. It’s interesting to see Blanding tackle a place different than Hawai‘i. I find his style brief, yet powerfully observant. He understood the elements of the tropics and how to paint a picture with words.
"Orange Blossoms" by Don Blanding
A witch’s spell is weaving in the air tonight
As perfumed magic drugs the swooning tropic breeze
Where golden moons and petal-stars of perfumed white
Glow in the green-leafed darkness of the orange trees.
"Halekulani" by Phillip Roberts
A tasty mai tai mixes with the smell of the crashing and cascading sea mere feet away from the concrete jungle, a haven from reality.
Potent rum drinks poured at the legendary “House without a key” I will long remember vibrant memories of sweet Waikiki.
Under a starry sky and a smiling makahiki moon, friends gather playfully to see, graceful hula and music ‘neath the shady hau tree.
Obviously this is the Halekulani.
The mai-tai at the “House without a Key’s” “Hau Tree lanai” bar at the Halekulani Hotel is a classic drink. The recipe is here. Two will have you feeling quite alright and the view of Diamond Head from their lawn is awesome. The trio of musicians starts playing some of my favorite classic hapa-haole tunes at 5:30 daily and is usually joined in the second set by the beautiful hula of Kanoe Miller.
Vintage Hawai‘i Travelogue.
While surfing around the web last month, I stumbled across this vintage vacation film I wanted to share. Incredible scenes of a very different 1920-30’s territorial Hawai‘i as photographed by tourists Arthur and Kate Tobe. Aside from vintage Waikiki, some of the footage is from the big island.
Courtesy of Archive.org
Some May events in Hawai‘i I recommend:
May 2nd – 20th Annual Maui Onion Festival, Maui: the sweetest onion, celebrity chefs, eating contests, and entertainment in "Whaler’s Village." FREE. While in Lahina, be sure to go by the historic "Pioneer Inn" and try the "Navy Grog" cocktail. That’s a darn tasty rum drink.
May 5th – Cinco De Mayo street festival and Block party. Downtown Honolulu at the cross of Nu‘uanu and Hotel Streets. Bands, dancing, and food. FREE.
May 14th through the 16th - World Fireknife Dance Competition and Samoan Cultural Arts Festival at the Polynesian Cultural Center, O‘ahu: This is so cool. World Fireknife Dance Competition. The following is a video from last year. The kids will love it. $
May 14th through the 16th – 18th Annual Ka Hula Piko Festival, Molokai: A celebration of the birth of hula. Food, crafts, hula, lectures, and entertainment are presented at Papohaku Park. FREE.
May 16th through 17th – 4th Annual Honolulu Book and Music Festival. Ukulele genius Jake Shimabukuro plays on the 16th! Authors include former governor Ben Cayetano. FREE.
May 21st – Mos Def at Pipeline Café. $
Airfares and hotel rooms are great deals right now in the Hawai‘ian islands. You’ll have a great time. From rodeos to slack key, you will find plenty of action for the whole family. Make your Hawai‘ian holiday full of special memories.
Until next month, Aloha!
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