dear sister, Joan,
write to you, I may be back at my desk in California, yet immersed in the scents of the Nânea a`o Kula lavender
farm, my thoughts return to Maui and I am with you. Easter
allows for clarity of thought, but she said nothing about
we spoke on the phone and you told me that you were taking us to
see a lavender
farm not far from your house in Kula, I was
is but a lighter shade of purple, and the
freak inside me was turning cartwheels.
When Sandy and I
were little country girls, ages 9 and 6, thereabouts, and you were
still a baby, we were allowed to pick two school dresses
from the mail-order catalog. One year, a purple dress
caught my eye.
no, that's too jimina (old-ladyish) for you!"
I stuck to my choice and awaited its arrival with
anticipation. When finally it did arrive,
passion was ignited. Made of a cotton fabric of deep purple
plaid (yes, plaid!), its dropped waist bodice was extravagantly pleated with a
row of rhinestone (yes, rhinestone!) buttons right down the
middle. Sounds pretty ugly, doesn't it?
When I see it through my adult's mind's eye, I agree with Mom. It was
one ugly dress.
me and Mom on the sofa, and Sandy and you in the
foreground. We were so little!
wearing that again," she'd say with dismay, over and
over again, sighing as she shook her head.
And, as only purple
lovers can understand, I felt so pretty in it. Almost as pretty as
fairy you see to the left.
you're scanning your memory bank for this dress, Joan, you can
stop now. I
literally wore that sad little dress out. By year's end, it was
faded, worn thin and ready for the rag bin. That childhood dress may have the
distinction of being the only one that never
made it to you as a hand-me-down. Trust me, you were spared.
this is definitely an aside, but one that must be preserved for
posterity. One Christmas, Santa gave each of us girls a red
cardigan sweater (funny, how Santa mail-ordered his gifts back
then, too). Three sisters with matching red sweaters. Too
cute. So Sandy outgrew her sweater. Fine. I wore
it for another four years as a hand-me-down. No
problem. But poor you, Joan. You outgrew yours.
Then, you wore mine for five years, then later Sandy's for another
four years. You went through almost ten years of red sweaters! `Aue.
No wonder you like shopping for new clothes. Who could blame you!
is how you can tell a purple
freak from the rest of the world:
She's the passenger on the Hawaiian Airlines plane from
LAX to Maui who keeps "oohing and ahhing" over
the new plane's purple
seats, the purple
and the flight attendants' purple
the one who was so taken by the purple
utensils and the purple
salad bowl, she just had to take a picture of them as she
flew back from Maui to LAX. She's the one who
brought home those purple
throwaway salad bowls as omiyage (gifts) for her
dogs. They'll make handy portable watering bowls
to keep in the car.
freak would be me.
An aside for our memory bank: Our
friend, the gorgeous Cynthia "Cindy" Lam Genova, was
as surprised to see us as we were to see her as we disembarked. Hawaiian Air is
our first choice for two reasons: the great Hawaiian
music and the friendly flight attendants like Cindy
who extend our visit to the islands with their onboard
Warm and gracious,
she is the model of genuine Hawaiian hospitality. She was tending
to the passengers in first class, unaware that we were just a few
feet away in coach. I mention her here,
as coincidentally, her side business is our source of purple
goods. Because of her, we have our purple
handtowels, purple Hawaiian
quilt pillows and purple hotpads!
I can't wait to tell her about the
OUR WAY UP TO THE KULA LAVENDER FARM: Saturday, July 19, 2003
loved my introduction to Maui lavender!
You couldn't have picked a better Upcountry discovery to share
with me. Thank you, my dear sister Joan!
more fully express my Mahalo, I put together this Web page so we
may relive this beautiful, sunlit day together, as well as to
share this wonderful place with family and friends and whoever
else might wander into this obscure corner of cyberspace, thanks
farm in Kula is a special place to be shared with one and
should the reader who has wandered here be of a suspicious nature
or is skeptical in the least, let me assure that reader that I am
not connected with the farm at all and my comments are unsolicited.
The kind people at Nânea a`o Kula don't even know who we are,
except that we were visitors to their farm.
recounted how my love for all things purple
began, since you were too little to know any of that history.
Besides being with my sisters, sweetie (Uncle T) and aunt, fully indulging my purple
delightful extravagance for me.
It also explains
why I felt
that same little-girl anticipation as you drove our intimate group
-- Sandy, Aunty Marion, DH and me -- from the Kamaole Sands
condo in broiling Kihei to cool and breezy Kula, past Alana's King
Kekaulike High School, your Upcountry house, past Kula Elementary
where you now work, and
on to the lavender farm,
Nânea A`o Kula, tucked in the
I'm so glad you
knew where you were going. It is a bit out of the way, but
well worth making the trek as we were soon to learn.
crow mynah bird flies, Kula looks
so close to Kîhei. But that would be too easy... We
went up and down in an inverted U. How you once drove
from Kula to the Maui Prince Hotel at Makena every day for work still astounds me!
was not our first introduction to lavender. Purple lover that I
am, I first fell in love with lavender
on an obscure Channel
Island off the coast of France in 1982; then again, in the fields
of Provence, France in 1984, and more recently, in Mendocino
in Northern California. Click on the blue links in this
paragraph to get
to pictures of lavender
sidebar: The Mendocino picture is taken
from the cottage we sought out, as it served as the movie set of
one of my favorites, SAME TIME, NEXT
YEAR, starring Alan Alda and
learn that lavender
now actually grows in
my homeland and to know that I need only come home to visit lavender
again. Well, I was simply beside myself!
ON THE LÂNAI: Lavender Tea, Lavender Scones, and a Myriad of
being warmly greeted by Easter Martin at the entrance of the farm, we were encouraged
to take a stroll around the rambling, balcony-wrapped house. The
garden's 3700 feet elevation affords dramatic, sweeping
vistas. Beautiful Maui and the blue, blue Pacific were at our
feet. How we miss that ocean when we are away...
overheard you thanking Aunty Marion for being so good
to you when you were little. I closed my eyes and remembered
how cute you and Cousin Cynthia looked in your matching
dresses and scarves with the cute little fishes that Aunty
Marion had sewed.
blessed with so many who have been nothing but kind to us,
and she is one who is at the top of that long list. Aunty
Marion wrote the book on how to be the caring, vivacious -- and
aunty. Although she is married to Mom's brother, she is like
a blood aunty. She treated all three of us as if we were her
very own daughters.
How lucky we
were on this glorious day to have Aunty Marion all to
I was at Dean's, I found this 1950s picture of Aunty
Marion and Uncle Aki. Precious.
Alan were missed, and I hope they will vicariously
enjoy this with us. If they're reading this: PLEASE make it to the
San Francisco Family Reunion, 2005. Maybe we can tour a lavender
field at one of the Napa wineries together!)
3 Sisters: Sandy from Kealakekua, Kona, me from
Southern California & Moloka`i, Joan from Kula with Aunty
Marion from Moanalua Valley, Honolulu, O`ahu
taking in those breathtaking panoramic views off the lânai,
we were invited to leisurely sip some aromatic, delicious lavender
herb tea, a blend of chamomile, lemon balm and mint along
with dried lavender,
while sampling foods seasoned with lavender.
Uncle T noticed that my tee-shirt matched the lavender
on the table. This color coordination was not intentional, I assure you, but I
suspect my subconscious mind was tickled
at the prospect of this
experience. I blended not only with the lavender
in the garden, but the lavender
jars of lavender
and even the lavender
railing that leads to the parking lot.
a proper lady, I broke my lavender-flecked
scone baked by "Jeannie the Bread Lady" of Kula
into bite-sized pieces. And for a practical reason: I intended to
slathered each piece with a different spread: honey infused
with a sprig of lavender
from "Dennis the Honey Man," and lilikoi
(passion fruit) jelly with lavender
peach jam made by Shirley Buetler of Upcountry Jams and
I savored and enjoyed every bite and taste of
their collective treats. What a job
well done by the Upcountry
was gladdened to learn that the local enterprises are
supportive of each other. The Hawaiian
values of kôkua (cooperation) and lôkahi
(unity) of our childhood endure and
continue to make total sense in today's Hawai`i.
be told, I REALLY wanted to scarf down another scone, such
a weakness I have for scones. These were THAT delicious
with a unique and pleasant crunchiness. But, I knew our
family reunion dinner at the Maui Beach Hotel's
“All You Can Eat Lobster, King Crab Legs, Seafood, Prime
Rib and Japanese Buffet" was
going to be one unholy pig-out session that night, so I
exercised restraint. Good t'ing, as dinner was exactly the
pig-out that I thought it might be. This family can put it
away -- especially those crab legs!
Martin gave us an informative orientation of the
which began a few short years ago. It is readily apparent
that she is a quick study. As product developer, aka, the
she has accomplished much in a short time, including
becoming a fount of lavender
kept our interest as she elaborated on
and authoritatively. Besides
our tea fare, we
learned that Nânea a'o
Kula also makes a lavender
herb salt, lavender
unforgettable fragrance has been distilled into essential lavender
oil that is used in lavender
mini-zabutons, and lavender
Am I beginning to sound like Bubba in
the movie, FORREST GUMP?
Those who are allergy prone
will be happy to learn that lavender
is one of
the few floras that are the least allergenic.
She shared her creations with
us by passing around tins and bottles of lotion for us to sample. Through
the years, she explained, lavender
has been known to calm nerves, relieve stress, headaches,
and insomnia, ease depression, uplift the spirit and arouse
passion. I made a mental note to pick up a tin of lavender
gardener's salve made with shea butter, a most wonderful
emollient. DH sampled some lavender
he rubbed into a fresh mosquito bite and it took away the
itch and inflammation within minutes.
bit of 'Net searching revealed the following:
has been used to protect linens from moths and freshen
sickrooms. It has also been used to sooth troubled
minds and as a medicine for hysteria, nervous
palpitations, hoarseness, toothaches, sore joints,
apoplexy and colic. Its uses today include repelling
mosquitos. (I am now officially sold on
lavender plantings, Lavender Scientist Easter Martin and me
was our personal guide for the garden walking tour along the
undulating hillside. Walking shoes and a hat are
advised. Small flowers of every shade and nuance of purple
emerge, wand-like, on small spikes held on stalks above the
foliage. The foliage is attractively lacy, fragrant and
|As we strolled the
lavender lined paths, we got upclose and personal with lavender.
Stopping often, Easter encouraged us to pick and sniff the
flowers and leaves.
blooms for each of us, and we each ended up with a
wussy messy fussie tussie
mussie mussie tussie -- a small
bouquet -- to take home as a keepsake array of fragrances
We learned that once the idea
of Maui lavender was sparked, Lavender
Engineer Ali`i Chang, the farm's green thumb and
Easter's partner in this business venture, planted his first
beds in 2001.
Lavender in tropical
Hawai`i? Who would have
thought it possible? And growing it on a sleeping volcano,
on the cinder covered slopes of Mount Haleakala! A novel idea.
One whose time had come.
Ali'i, the master gardener, forged ahead and has
since been constantly expanding the plantings,
yanking out old protea bushes and replacing them with
plants. He started with four kinds of lavender,
and now there are 27 different kinds of lavender
and more than 11,000
plants on three hillside acres. There are at least a 100 different
kinds of lavender, so Ali`i will be challenged to find and
try to grow them here.
Elsewhere in the world, the
flowers mostly appear in Spring. In Kula, they bloom all
cornucopia of lavender
products evolved when Ali`i enlisted
the help of Easter, an old friend with a fertile mind and lively
imagination and now co-owner in
charge of product development. Easter's friend from France, where lavender
is a way of life, introduced her to lavender
products and processing information.
enterprising, so akamai (smart), these two kama`âina
(children of the land)!
Ali`i hopes to cover the
pastured hillside behind the house with lavender
fields. I am envisioning this for my next visit:
As he intended,
Ali`i's meandering pastel gardens are reminiscent of Monet's
garden paintings, specifically, The Artist's Garden in Giverny.
Loving sunny days, cool nights and dry conditions, lavender has found a home on
the slopes of Haleakalâ. Upcountry
Maui provides an ideal microclimate with its Hawaiian sunshine,
cool elevation, excellent drainage, rich volcanic soil and lack of
minimal watering and no fertilizing, lavender
is xeriscapably perfect for Kula.
is actually native to Mediterranean regions. The so-called
was actually introduced by the Romans while conquering the
British Isles. What is commonly known in the US as
is hardly ever found natively in France.
is now the perfect hânai (adopted) child of Maui.
As we entered the
Secret Garden, Easter picked some pohâ (cape
gooseberry) right off the plant for us to sample. We
reminisced how this nature-wrapped treat was our after-school
snack, growing up in Pahoa on the Big Island.
There, under the
cool shade of a huge avocado tree, we drank in the view of the
garden and admired the lush plantings of palapalai (a
crushed a leaf and deeply inhaled its fresh ferny fragrance.
Palapalai's scent mixes
well with lavender's.
Ducking through a
plant-covered arbor, we take a breather in the Secret Garden.
And what is its secret the visitor may ask?
If I disclose too
much, it won't be a secret garden anymore. Each must go to
Maui and to the lavender farm and see it for themselves. A
secret is a secret.
sat a while and 'talked story,' local-style. Easter
shared with us the history of her name. Before we asked the obvious, she
informed us that she was born on an Easter Sunday.
Apparently, her parents had boiled the choices down to two:
a name that started with the letter "G" -- was it
Giselle? Grisela? Gertrude? Poina au! (I
forget!) Well, anyway, the name Easter won out. It suits her, as
she exudes a springtime freshness.
||She is half-Filipina,
one quarter Chinese, one quarter Hawaiian; typically local, i.e., down-to-earth and unpretentious, originally from
a grad from the 70s, and, in our opinion, 100% ALOHA.
A mother of sons, she laughingly tell us that they are her
guinea pigs for her lavender
facials, potions, lotions, and salves. Auę, powah
t'ings. But bettah dem den us, yeah!
Her passion and enthusiasm for
lavender is inspiring. Her inventive mind is
nothing short of impressive, as it bubbles and brims with
ideas for innovative lavender
THE END OF THE ROAD
who is this lovely lady full of grace with my husband, Uncle T (aka
T's smile in the picture above speaks volumes. For us who
Veary was the unexpected -- and ultimate thrill --
that awaited us at the end of the path at the lavender
garden. She was the lavender-flavored
cherry on top of a most delectable lavender
is Ali`i Chang's longtime friend, renowned Hawai`i singer
Emma Veary. She is also his muse, when a few years ago
she handed Ali`i a bouquet of lavender she had brought back from
the Pacific Northwest, home of the legendary festival held in honor of the bloom
each year. From that gifting came the inspiration to grow
lavender on the slopes of Haleakalâ.
Yes, it was Emma
Veary who spawned the idea, giving impetus for the creation of the lavender
garden. Ha`aha`a (Humble), she would not say this, herself. I read
this as I researched Maui lavender
the 'Net this morning.
days, she shares the vision of the garden and is actively
fulfilling the mission
of Nânea a`o Kula. She graces the gift shop with her
welcoming presence. She not only presides over it with her miki`oi
(meticulous) touches and loving care, but also attends to
those who come to it with her warm ALOHA.
Her spirit of mâlama (caring) is felt in every nook
and cranny of this delightful and memorably aromatic store.
we spoke, her mother's book, CHANGE
WE MUST, popped into mind. A
I think it would blend in well with the lavenders.
daughter's singing, Nana Veary's writing about her spiritual
life in Hawai`i has so much mana (spiritual energy)
and Aloha. Her book is a salve to people's hearts and souls. Her writing style has been described as "clear
and deep and still as a mountain pool."
ample and lush, her BEST
OF EMMA CD is a classic that we have treasured since its
release in 1999.
grew up with Emma Veary's music. What a voice!
Soaringly celestial. Loving her music and admiring her talent, we were
honored to meet her and make her acquaintance.
We were in
the presence of Hawaiian musical royalty and were humbled by
it. With regal bearing, she proudly volunteered that she is
72 years old -- make that 72 years YOUNG.
elegance, she looks FABULOUS. I know, I know, MUST be
And like lavender,
she too is beautiful and down-to-earth!
sang us a few bars of Hawai`i Aloha -- a
generous portion of herself. It was a gift from her
heart, one that we will never forget.
Mahalo e Emma
D (aka AU), Easter Martin, Joan, Sandy and Aunty Marion
Nanea a`o Kula Studio/Gift Shop
This is just outside
Easter Martin's studio/gift shop. This is her "bebe girl" (baby
daughter). And she fills it with lots of smell-good, feel-good,
taste-good items. Bunches of lavender hang
from the ceiling to dry. Wands of lavender
to tuck into linen drawers fill jars on the shelves. An array
of candles ("You must always take a bath with candles!"),
soaps, spritzers, mists, bubble bath, and lotions of lavender
fill the shelves.
If something can be made out of lavender, Easter's made it, is
making it or will soon be making it. >> Check
out her full product line
As Easter said, "Lavender
has been known to arouse
with my passion for purple
and her contagious enthusiasm for lavender,
I was in Heaven in her studio/shop. My
passion was definitely aroused.
shop is not just filled with girly things. As examples, since I look
at my husband more than anybody, I thought it was a good idea to don
him in lavender-purple apparel. I crowned him with a cap with a purple
dragonfly. He wore it well. Besides serving as a cleverly designed `okina
in their logo, the dragonfly symbolizes
light and joy. The perfect symbolism for this day.
up a royal purple
polo shirt against his chest. Emma Veary and I both agreed it suited him. You can
see him in purple for yourself below, although the photo hardly does
justice to the richness of its deep purple
hue. What do you think?
in California with our goodies.
A passionate man with Freddy and `Oli.
scooped up a bunch of mini-zabuton sachets filled with fragrant lavender
for my co-workers, neighbors who so kindly watched and fed our dogs,
and hula sisters. The perfect stress-relieving gift for LA
dwellers! When life gets to them or they're feeling depressed,
they just have to pat on their mini-zabutons to release the lavender's
Did I get that right, Easter? Perhaps a natural alternative to
Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft? No doubt with added benefits and less
I can smell myself and I love to garden, I treated myself to a vial
essential oil and a tin of lavender
gardener's salve. If Easter's right about
being a romantic herb, Uncle T and I are going to be one hot mama and
know what I think is the best thing about these gifts? Just
like your sweet gift that you made for us, Joan, they are homegrown and
Hawai`i-made! 'Da bes' kine. If we don't support our
locals, shame on us! So if you're reading this, kind visitor
to Hawai`i, PLEASE support the folks who make your trip
authentically Hawaiian. ALWAYS buy Hawai`i-made. INSIST
ON IT. Hawaiian crafts, Hawaiian music, Hawaiian foods,
Joan, you know what's even more special about these gifts from the
gift shop? They have Emma Veary's mana in them. She
personally ho`onaninani'd them with pretty ribbons and packaged them
up for us in -- guess
what color? -- lavender
folks at Nânea a`o Kula have accomplished their mission: Within two
hours, our lives were enriched, by "evoking of joy, delight,
rejuvenation, comfort and serenity" by the Lavender
That's a tall order, and they filled it.
come to the end of my thank you note, my dear sister Joan.
for all your hard work in making the Iwata Family Reunion, Maui
2003, happen and with such style. With 30+ of us in
attendance, this was no small or easy feat. The Maui Gang -- you,
Mitch, and Alana; Milton, Naomi, Mika and Mari; and Dean, Lei, and
Carissa -- made it a huge success.
program and itinerary. The Friday night pűpű and dinner
party at the condo suite was fantastic. Amazing quantities of
food, and all so `ono. We loved our accommodations -- BIG
MAHALO for that!! Arranging all the varied activities.
Photography by Ricky. Dinner at the Maui Beach Hotel.
Driving us to Kula, then to your house to visit with BigDog and
Hâna, and stopping at Maui Mall for Tasaka's guriguri.
Finding Dean at the beach for fishing. Beer and tacos at Polli's in Makawao.
The cone sushi, pűpű, and purple
potato pie that you brought over to Dean's house for dinner (I wish
we had a Pukalani Superette down the road!)
& Uncle T
David Letterman, listen up:
This is the smartest dog in the world.
Jenna, & Alana
is in the details," and you attended to every one of
them. Your hotel management skills came to the fore.
thank Alana for the flowers that decorated the reunion
"headquarters" at Kama`ole Sands and Mitch for the bottles
of Murphy-Goode wine -- with the purple
labels and cork covers -- with Sunday's dinner. The Merlot was
perfection. And Uncle T loved the Fumé Blanc.
Salt Rub (`Ono loa!)
as we got back, Joan, we rubbed your seasoned `alaea salt into some chicken
and stuck in the oven. You should go in business! So simple
and soooooooo `ono, was.
And yes, "angels danced the day you were born." Why?
Because they saw how happy it made me to have you as my little
sister. "Words are the voice of the heart" -- especially
for folks like me who 'no can sing good.' I hope that
with these electronically written words, you hear my
can relax and take a well-deserved break, Joan. Time for you to nânea
(relax, rejuvenate). I hope this reliving of this
beautiful Kula morning has allowed you to do just that!
MAHALO for arranging this magical time in Kula for us. While
the rest of the `ohana (family) was golfing and doing the beach thing, three
sisters originally from Pahoa, their SUPAH aunty and the horticulturist in
the family got to spend precious moments in a beautiful, fragrant garden,
out in the country. Lucky for us, it just so happens that
your 'backyard' includes the slopes of Haleakalâ -- the home
of the Maui lavender
garden, Nânea a`o Kula.
ever-lovin' sister, me ke Aloha,
If you haven't already done so, be sure to check Nânea a`o
own beautiful lavender
P.S. Look what I found on
Either dried lavender, the kind
you find on spice racks, or fresh lavender can be used in this
not-too-sweet tea cake. The recipe was tested with dried lavender,
pulverized in a mini food processor, before measuring.
1 cup granulated sugar
5 tablespoons butter or
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg white
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plain fat-free yogurt
2 tablespoons finely chopped
fresh lavender leaves, or 1 tablespoon finely chopped dried
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spray 8-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside.
For the cake: Beat sugar,
butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla at medium speed of a mixer until
well blended, about 5 minutes. Add egg and egg white, one at a time,
and beat well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into
measuring cups; level with knife. Combine flour, baking powder,
baking soda and salt and stir well. Add flour mixture to sugar
mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour
mixture. Stir in lavender. Pour into 8-inch loaf pan coated with
cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour, or until wooden toothpick
inserted in center comes out clean.
Glaze: Combine ingredients
spread over hot cake. Cool in pan 20 minutes on wire rack. Remove
from pan and cool completely. Makes 10 slices. Cake can be frozen.
Note: If flowering
lavender is available, put a flower on each plate when you serve the
only gift is a portion of thyself."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
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