Monday, November 15, 2021

What in the Heck is Alohilani?


"Unclose your mind. You are not a prisoner. You are a bird in flight, searching the skies for dreams."

Haruki Murakami


Quote of the day on the Internet. 


If we really believed that, we would be ecstatic to be alive. 


I'm not seeing a whole lot of that lately.


Today I'm taking a turn from talking about life, the universe, and everything and talking about flowers. 


Hold on, Jo, talking about flowers is talking about life.


"Earth, 114 million years ago, one morning just after sunrise: The first flower ever to appear on the planet opens up to receive the rays of the sun."—Eckhart Tolle



Plants had already populated the earth. It's complicated. Ferns produce more ferns without flowers by producing "spores" on the underside of their leaves. Trees produce more trees from cones, and the Banyan tree "walks" by way of a limb touching the ground and sprouting, thus making a new tree. That tree does the same, and so on.


Plants that flower, however, were late bloomers.


The first flower probably did not last for long. And probably for a long while, flowers were an isolated and rare phenomenon.


One day, however, a critical threshold was reached, and suddenly the world exploded into color.


Think of this, my dear friends; we could be like the flowers reaching that threshold. The monkeys did it with their 100 monkey phenomenon. One day a single little lady monkey washed her sweet potato in a stream. It wasn't long until all the monkeys on the island were washing their sweet potatoes, and they had not seen her do it. 


There could be, for human beings, a sudden explosive awakening where we pull our noses out of the mud and look to the glories that could be ours. We could see that we are glorious, powerful beings connected to a divine presence. I want to be alive to see it, experience it, and be a part of it. 


I wrote the following for my other site Jo's Store Books and Coffee (as a Christmas idea, and incidentally, about a man named Joe). Since I was into flowers, I am putting it here as well. 



 What in the heck is Alohilani?

That's what we wondered when we moved to Hawaii. 

A handwritten sign about two feet long and eight inches high with handwritten letters spelled Alohilani existed on the right side of the highway. It was our marker to turn onto the road on the left. That road was practically obscured by cane grass as tall as our vehicle. Many times we would have missed our exit had it not been for that sign. The road to our house road was virtually invisible from the highway, as it took off through cane grass as high as the car.


We had purchased ten of the most beautiful acres at the end of the road—the end meaning as far as you could drive. The road at one time transported pineapples from Pahoa to Hilo. At that time it was impassable beyond our property.


Along our two miles of lumpy, bumpy road leading to our house, a gate and a park-like setting existed, indicating that something spectacular lay beyond. We must have lived there for two months before we found out what it was. It was Alohilani, an orchid farm.


As we were preparing to leave the Island about a year later, I called Alohilani. Joe, the owner, invited us to visit his beautiful spread.


The portion we saw after driving through his gate and away from the road was acres of green around his house, manicured into a park-like setting, populated by three dogs, three horses, a multitude of sheep, and pigs who played with the dogs and slept clean and sleek under the palms.


"Isn't this what a farm is about," asked Joe, "having animals?"


My kind of guy.


Joe told us that when he first moved onto this property, the land was raw, untamed, and wild. He bulldozed and planted and built the highest treehouse I have ever seen. It must have been 100 feet in the air, and not in a tree but on poles. He built a packing building and erected rows of shade-cloth-covered structures, and filled them with orchids.


Growing orchids is labor-intensive we found out.


The day my daughter, grandson, and I arrived, Joe was in the process of breaking bottles.


The bottles were about a foot long, squared on the long sides, and about two inches in width.


Holding a bottle over a trash can, Joe gently tapped the end of each bottle with a hammer, broke the glass, and then poured the tiny orchid plants into a bucket of water. Two young women then placed a single sprout into a one-inch peat-pot.


The bottles were filled with a gel substrate that nourished little green sprouts. Joe said that the suppliers did not throw in the seeds randomly, but carefully, with long tweezers, placed each plant in rows on the gel. In two years, those tiny plants would become exquisite flowering orchids.


Joe, now a widower, told us that the climate on the Island was perfect for orchids. The plants grown there are much hardier and healthier than those raised in greenhouses or imported from the orient.


We told him we were leaving the Island and moving back to the mainland. Here we were neighbors and had only just met each other when we were about to leave. I looked over at the pigs sleeping contentedly under the palm trees. They were of the wild variety, black and sleek and grunting contentedly on clean grass, paying us no mind. They were free to come and go at will, and those sleeping under the palms, Joe told us, had been born on the farm. The wild pigs had found a haven, even if—we discovered later, once, in a while, one becomes food for Joe.


As I was preparing to leave, Joe said, "You eat pork, don't you?" He opened a refrigerator packed to the brim with packages of meat, took out an entire pork shoulder, and thrust it into my arms. A parting gift. How wonderful to have met him.


I was investigating the possibility of importing orchids when we got back to the mainland. At the time, Joe was willing to provide me with the opportunity of importing orchids. However, when we returned to the mainland, I found orchids in shops and grocery stores less expensive than I could provide. Joe found a way, for he was constantly exporting them. As he said, his plants had been grown on native soil and were thus healthier--perhaps specific companies, florists and others appreciated that.


As I said, we were preparing to leave the Island. First, we had decided that while we made great tourists, we made lousy Polynesians. Island living was not for us. Second, my husband had developed a heart condition, and the doctor asked me, "You know about the Big Island, don't you?"


"In what regard?" I asked.


"If your husband needs further treatment, he will have to go to Honolulu."


Holy smokes, I thought, I'm not commuting to Honolulu.


We couldn't get off that Island fast enough.


Incidentally, we saw a golden orchid—really. It was as gold and gold, and alive. This orchid was not at Joe's but at another tourist- display-farm. (Perhaps that was the reason for Joe's tiny sign, only to show delivery trucks where to turn--and us--not for tourist's directions.) The golden orchid had a price tag of $25,000.


However, the golden orchid was not for sale. I wondered at the time if this was like the old ploy of having a thousand-dollar bottle of wine listed on a menu, so the others seemed like a bargain.


Joe was the real deal.


If you want one of Joe's orchids, I will try to get it for you. I can provide types and pictures. But it has been 10 years since our visit and my communication with him, so I will have to see how that would work.  


You can find Christmas gift suggestions on



Alohilani in Hawaiian means "Full of compassion."