Sunday, September 9, 2012

Gingery Ironies

     It is ginger season in Puna Ma Uka.  As one travels the Volcano Highway, the scent of wild white and yellow ginger drifts into the car.  Other varieties of ginger can be seen in bloom such as the shampoo ginger and the blue ginger.  Up in Volcano, the kahili ginger and coral ginger are also blossoming.

     I remember my childhood in Lahaina.  In the back of our house, there was a concrete basin which we used to wash our feet before going into the house.  The muddy water from our dirty feet flowed into a patch of white ginger, an anomaly in hot and dry Lahaina.  We had gone to Hana which in childhood days seemed hundreds of miles away and dug up the ginger roots.  My mom planted the ginger near our wash feet sink and made sure that the plants received a lot of water.  The mango tree gave the perfect amount of shade to help the ginger to flourish.  I loved picking the blossoms and putting them in my hair, waiting for the breezes to blow the fragrance past my face.

     Living in Glenwood means we are living in ground zero for ginger.  The yellow ginger plants along the highway grow to over 10 feet tall.  If you want to pick ginger in the ditches outside of our yard, you need a second person who is standing on the road or a tree stump to direct you to where the flowers are.  When we first moved to our ranch property, our yard was choked with ginger.  Using much physical labor, we dug the ginger out, corm by corm.  We mowed the lawn, bit by bit, encouraging the grass to grow.  We pulled out the keiki or young plants.  Finally grass triumphed and our lawn was complete.  Yet right outside of our heavy fence strong enough to keep out marauding wild pigs, ginger plants crowd around trying to get back into the yard.

     I still love the fragrance of ginger.  I love the feathery ginger leis made by my friend, Eva.  I love the paradox of the plant:  fragile and wispy blossoms which grow on aggressive and sturdy stalks.  But I don't like ginger in my yard.  Let them grow freely along the highway, they don't take well to captive environments.

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