We met at the bottom of the hill of Kakapu lighthouse at 5:30 a.m. and hiked for 30 minutes up the paved path with only the light of the moon and a few flashlights. Venus, Orion and the Seven Sisters observed from above the mountains while we enjoyed the ocean winds and worked our way to the top. From the summit we could see the same beautiful coastal road we traveled in the dark. Our friends, the Wilks, provided yummy burritos when we made it back to the bottom after wishing dozens of other sunrise hikers a Happy Thanksgiving. I think we have discovered a new tradition to bring in the holidays here in Hawai'i.
This month, my third graders studied the 7 major biomes of the earth. As we celebrated Thanksgiving in our own classroom, I read to them "Over the river and through the woods" and asked them what biome was reflected. They recognized the deciduous forests descriptions and tried to sympathize with the difficulty of breezes that sting the nose and bite the toes. I read this poem to challenge them to appreciate their own colors and culture because there is a sense that the holiday isn't real unless the leaves have fallen and the weather is cold. I can honestly say that I have not seen a single maple, oak or sycamore tree here in Hawai'i, yet all the stores, classrooms and lobbies are covered with silk replicas of their leaves. I asked my students if not having those trees or experiences makes our holiday less real...they weren't sure. The association with fall colors and leaves and harvest is a good one, but not the only one. Surely the most important association with this holiday is thankfulness. In that light, we each held three kukui nuts (in abundant supply on our island and often used in making leis) and filled a glass bowl (that we watched being made at a field trip to a glassblowing shop) as 23 children counted their blessings. Another thanksgiving tradition to continue. We also discussed our own version of that popular thanksgiving poem.
Over the ocean and through the canal to Tutu's house we go
The crew knows the way to carry the canoe through the blue ocean foam
Over the mountains and through the Pali oh how the Trade Winds blow
The rains come down and rainbows abound as over the hills we go....
Happy Thanksgiving from the lovely Pacific....