my first Hui day

I’ve officially landed at the Hui Ho’olana Retreat Centre and the first thing I have to say is: they were right. There is definitely some special energy on this island. Everyone I talked to who had been to Molokai before had tipped me off to this already, and I can feel it. What else could explain my incredible amount of energy here on the first day? I should have been recovering in bed after several 3am nights in a row aiming for the Vancouver airport from icy Saskatchewan, followed by a night sleeping on concrete in the Maui airport baggage claim area. I almost fell asleep while my body banged around in the bumpy Cessna, but as dawn over Maui became a sunny morning on Molokai, I stepped off the plane and Connie greeted me with a warm hug and a lei of beautifully scented plumerias. Feeling immediately welcomed here, I promptly forgot about my lack of sleep and dove in.

Over a strong, creamy coffee, I got to know Connie–she is the kind of person who feels like an old friend right away. Connie is from my bioregion back home, and has several decades of experience teaching horticulture and organic food production. I will be learning one on one with her for the next month, and after that I will be managing the veggie garden that feeds the retreat guests and staff of the Hui. It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m excited for the challenge. Not to mention the immaculate garden is a food grower’s dream! Raised beds, tall sunflowers, pungent herbs, tropical fronds swaying in the wind, and a love nest (shaded lounge bed) right in the middle. It’s not going to be hard to spend all day here.

The crown jewels of the garden are, without a doubt, the leafy greens. This is partly the reason for the name of this blog. My main job here is to plant greens, grow greens, harvest greens, and….grow more greens. The Hui folks eat tons of leafy greens, and we need to provide at least a giant bag of salad every day from what we grow. Looking at the garden, you wouldn’t think there would be enough for everyone. There are huge spaces between the plants, and most of the salad greens are very young. It used to be much thicker, but when Connie arrived, she started gardening her way, and I am fascinated to learn how this can be done.

After an afternoon seeding Devil’s Tongue lettuce till my eyes were crossed, I joined my fellow staff and volunteers for dinner. I couldn’t believe my eyes–Beef burgers and free Rogue Pale Ale for the taking! I hardly ever eat beef burgers these days, because it’s hard to get happy meat that I can afford, and because meat production has such a huge environmental impact. But this was certified organic, biodynamic, grass-fed beef from a family friend right here on Molokai! My taste buds rejoiced.

To burn off this wellspring of energy, I joined the others in their Thursday night ritual. The Hui runs on a two-week cycle: one week there is a retreat, the next week we breathe and prepare for the next retreat. In two days, a photography workshop will begin. So tonight, we trickled down through the darkness to the yurt. Eli’s Yurt is a beautiful circular building where many of the workshops take place. Tonight we turned it into an ecstatic dance space. For some, this can be a spiritual practice; for others, it’s a fun sweaty workout. We danced around wherever and however our bodies moved us, to tribal beats, Hawaiian a capella, slow fiddle notes, and Simon & Garfunkel. With an opening and closing circle and many deep stretches along the way, it was the perfect way to drop my body, mind, and spirit into this community. I was definitely meant to come here. I’m home.

 

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