Mahina showed her face early, impatient to start her arc across the sky. On this night, she appeared to be slightly turned away, looking back across East Maui. The waxing moon (mahina hapalua mua) hung in a blue-gray sky.
A drift of cloud threatened to veil Mahina. The cloud was a hard-to-describe color. Rose with an orange tint? Orange with a rose tint? At any rate, it was a gauzy creation out of a pastel painting. Mahina held the cloud away. It slid by under the silver disc.
On the opposite side of the world, the sun (La) rested on the southwest flank of Mahina's mountains. Under its eye-stinging blaze, the sun appeared ready to crush Kealaloloa Ridge or set it afire. The clouds across the Central Isthmus weren't as lucky. The sunset (ahiahi) was setting the stage for night (po), burning the clouds (na ao) into shades of red rimmed with gold.
When La slipped below the western horizon, Mahina was left to light the island for other-world spirits to see their way across Maui. For most, they are hard to see. Many have heard them, especially the warriors. Their capes rustle. Their wooden weapons clunk.
Mental ramblings in the night:
John Dominis Holt, an ancestor of the Holts on Maui, wrote a story about a princess who rode her horse into Oahu's Nuuanu Valley on a rainy night. She first heard and then saw the marchers and attendants. She was heir apparent to the Hawaiian throne and was torn, Holt wrote, between her European education and a responsibility to her people.
The story goes that she caught a cold from being in the rain and died within two weeks. The story was fiction. The writer never named the princess. It's a fact that Princess Nahienaena returned to her Lahaina home in a royal casket on board a ship purchased specifically for her final journey.
Po beckoned and Mahina lit the way.
I pushed Baby out of the garage into a silvered yard, threw a leg over the motorcycle and headed for a friend's Kihei home. It was a good excuse to take a ride before succumbing to Morpheus.
There was a wind that knocked the small motorcycle from side to side. Nothing dangerous but enough of a concern to stay focused on Haleakala Highway below Pukalani, checking mirrors for fast-runners coming up behind. For once, there was gratitude for the state creating a four-lane, divided roadway.
Buildings lining Dairy Road kept the wind at bay. Mokulele (airport) Highway was raked but the four-laner made for easy going and a chance to do a little sightseeing.
Street lights defined Wailuku Heights. With a little imagination, the outline once appeared to be a Hawaiian ray swimming up the side of the mountain. Development turned the fanciful picture into a kapakahi jumble.
Looked the other way. Haleakala was a shadow looming against Mahina's glow. A few lights sparkled in the dark here and there once beyond Makawao and Pukalani.
Beyond Kula, there was a large box of lights marking the Hawaiian homestead Waiohuli subdivision. The size of the about 400-lot subdivision can only be appreciated at night, courtesy of the street lights. It disappears in the daylight.
Remembered a daytime ride on the upper edge of the development and spotting a sign along one of the entrance roads. It read: "No Access to Kihei or Wailea." If only there were. This doesn't count a private road constructed from Keokea to Makena by the minions of media mogul Oprah Winfrey.
A new sign on Mokulele identifies the way into the headquarters of the Kealia Pond Wildlife Refuge. It is said the wetlands became a refuge for aeo (Hawaiian stilt), auku'u (coot), alae keokeo (mudhen), koloa (duck) and other birds to keep A&B from turning the area into a residential marina on the lines of what Kaiser did at Hawaii Kai on Oahu.
Stories abound along every Maui road.
I managed to sort out the intersection at the end of Mokulele and wound up cruising down South Kihei Road. The construction jangle of pitted asphalt has been smoothed in a ribbon of macadam. There wasn't that much traffic.
At the friend's house, Mahina reappeared, caught in the fronds of a coconut palm. A few lights at sea marked nighttime fishing. The air was a soft embrace after the sharp-edged chill of Kula.
It was a good ride down and back up, despite the lusty trade winds. Mahina lit the way.
* Ron Youngblood is a former staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.