Seeing the "supermoon" this week was a bust in Kula. The sky was shrouded by a thick layer of ao. No complaints, though. Every drop of rain is treasured. And that's about all that fell, a few drops here and there.
According to the experts, the "supermoon" appeared 14 percent larger than normal since it was only 222,000 miles from Earth. It would seem even bigger and brighter just after it cleared the eastern horizon. Hmmm. Getting that perspective is a little tough on the west side of Haleakala. Still . . .
Being a sucker for Mahina's silvery glow, it might be worth a run eastward. Lassitude and a lack of organization ruled out traveling to Hana. Check maps for some closer point of land that allowed an easterly sight line. Kailio Point on the left side of Mamalu Bay out Nuu way looked like it might be a good spot. Actually, just about any place between Ulupalakua and Kaupo would probably work.
Head out to chase the "supermoon." No luck. Clouds everywhere. Get splattered with some rain on the way home. Still . . .
When a Maui experience proves elusive, there's always something similar ready to lure a person into the past.
It was around 1980. The sun had just dropped below the top of the West Maui Mountains. The sky was still bright, the ground just dark enough to highlight the string of taillights snaking up the mountain. Heading home to Kokomo from town, meant pointing toward Haiku. Look up.
The full moon, Mahina Piha, was just clearing the northeast flank of the mountain. Huge. Gorgeous. A perfect orb framed by a consort of clouds. The sight was exciting enough to warrant stopping off at an artist's house in Haliimaile. Had to share the experience with someone who would appreciate the view if I got there in time. Ride into the yard and blip the throttle. The moon was nearly overhead.
The artist, Sharon Carter Kelly, interrupted her dinner preparations at the sound of the motorcycle outside. She and her photographer husband, Marty, came out with their infant daughter, Casey. We stood and gazed in a silence interrupted only by the ticking of the motorcycle's hot exhaust pipe.
"That would make a great subject for one of your weavings," the scribbler ventured. Sharon shrugged. She'd just had a one-woman show of her loom work in a Wailea art gallery.
"I could sell every piece I make if I just include a full moon, palm tree and pineapple in it - Kodak stuff," she said light-heartedly. "If I want to really guarantee success, put a whale in it."
Her voice went weary. "Can't do it though. Two or three times, OK. More than that it stops being art. Might as well be in a factory on an assembly line."
Marty looked up one more time. "Good memory shot. Too far away for film, though."
The image is still vivid, all these decades later. It's firmly mounted in the scrapbook chronicling a Maui that had a third of today's population - a time when loosey-goosey lunacy was tolerated, if not understood, by born and raised islanders. Full moons tended to bring out bizarre explanations for otherwise ordinary events.
Flip through the scrapbook. Ah, there it is. "UFOs spotted in night sky." Although new to the island, those kind of reports were common in the 1960s in the Midwest. Working the nightshift in a news office often included calling Air Force officials for routine denials even though its "Blue Book" detailed dozens of unexplained nighttime sightings.
Haleakala Crater was "Mu," an energy source that attracted alien attention, some said. Remember the harmonic convergence celebrated by what skeptics called the harmonica virgins?
A common source of Maui's UFO reports were flashes of light too high in the sky for ground sources and too low for airplanes. A recent news item led to this particular page in the scrapbook - a power outage "when a power line possibly affected by salt air corrosion came down."
Haven't seen one of the trucks in years, but there was a time when Maui Electric crews would routinely wash down power line insulators. Seems they'd get encrusted with salt and then arc over with big flashes of light when there was a light rain. Those fiery flashes were exciting for those wanting to believe we are not alone in the universe.
Forget the flashes. Let's savor the moonlight, even when it can't be seen through life-giving rain clouds. There's always next month.
* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.