Everyday at Kalani (ka lani, heaven) on the Big Island of Hawai’i is perfect, but some days are more perfect than others and today is one such day.
Saturday and the second day of the new year and a new decade started out as usual; always a good day for revitalizing mind, body and spirit. My day begins with Wuji gong (chi gung) for an hour, which finishes with free form movement - following one’s own chi; always powerful for me. After a quick half hour breakfast comes restorative yoga, which takes away all the aches and stiffness from my weekly work shifts in the kitchen; this week more wearying than usual with New Year’s Eve taking the majority of staff leaving us short staffed for the two morning shifts either side. This left me spent and drained of energy, so there was a lot of restoring to do. There was a bigger difference to this Saturday in store for me today.
Ten minutes into the Restorative Yoga class, I heard what sounded like whale song; listening more closely it sounded like a circular or chain saw. December sees the return of the whales around the islands when they seek warmer climes after Alaska, where they feed. They come here to breed and frolic. There have been many sighting in the past few weeks.
Although the sound I was hearing was not whale song, I took it as a message that the whales were waiting for me. I had not yet sited whales in Hawai’i and I had a strong urge to leave the class after 10 minutes, but stayed the two hours because my body needed it. Then unquestioning I walked to The Point a short distance away. First I saw some small charcoal grey crabs scurrying about on the rocks below. They wore perfect camouflage, blending in perfectly with the smooth rocks; their movement caught my eye. Initially I thought I might climb down to watch them, good sense prevailed when I realized that I probably would not be able to climb back up. The Point is a rocky cliff.
Returning to my purpose, I made my way to sit on the bench and gaze out at the sea to whale watch and immediately saw what looked like an upturned boat with the bottom just surfacing the water not far from the shoreline. I felt troubled and looked closely to make out exactly what it was, looking for other debris. To my surprise, even though they had called me, I saw two noses surface, spouts from blow holes and then a tail twice coming out of the water. What I thought was a boat had been the back of a whale. How exciting to spot my first whales; yet, there was more to come.
After restorative yoga I feel completely relaxed and at peace, so I was in the perfect frame of mind to sit and watch for a long spell. Now I knew what to look for, so I scanned the surface of the water in different directions and spotted them again far off near the horizon, spouting and flashing their tails. I noticed that the surface of the water tended to be disturbed when the whales were in a particular area and then changed when they moved on. Other areas looked disturbed more permanently and these were indications of rocks just below the surface. So a gazed out to sea with this in mind studying the movements of the water. I have come to accept my ‘knowings’ when they occur and these come more frequently here; one came that said ‘Third time lucky’ (an English expression) – wait and you will see them breach. This is a far less common sight, what I had seen so far being more typical.
After sitting awhile more without any activity, I stood up to get a better vantage point to look along the shoreline to the left. It was difficult to see in this direction from the bench. A palm tree stands on the edge with a trunk the bends out towards the ocean. This made a perfect leaning post for my body with my arm wrapped around it – so cozy. Now I can clearly see a group of whales close to the shore further down spouting away through their blowholes. One breaches, then two together, then another and another, while a gazed on in perfect wonder, gasping with choked sighs of WOW, WOW, WOW and again WOW; the tears nearly falling from my eyes – yet not quite, it would blur my vision. The soft grateful emotional wows were followed by thank yous and mahalos. What a perfect gift for the New Year and the New Decade; a gift from Na-maka-o-ka-hai, Pele's older sister, who belongs to the powers of the sea.
According to the legends: Na-maka-o-ka-hai, a sea-goddess, as a result of family trouble, became Pele's most bitter enemy, fighting her with floods of water. Thus the original household represented the two eternal enemies, fire and water. Some say that the two sisters, Pele of the fire and Na-maka-o-ka-hai of the sea have now made peace with each other.
I walk in a dream for the rest of the day feeling in awe, truly an awesome sight; that word is far too overused, when to be in awe is not commonplace. I am perfectly blessed on this most perfect of all perfect days.
Mahalo nui loa, Na-maka-o-ka-hai
Marilyn Hammill (Volunteer & Kalani Mauka Steward)