My mates in Hawaii are selling up. After years of procrastinating, they’ve peeled the pineapple, parlayed the papaya and put their place on the market. I saw the advertisement online today. and as I read the agent’s blurb, it struck me how difficult it is to capture the essence of a place with measurements and matrices, limited by a character count and legal requirements. I’ve visited them on the big island a number of times – and each time I was met at the airport with a fresh plumeria lai. The scented flower necklace shut the door on the world I’d left behind and opened the door to Hawaiian hospitality.I can smell it now.
When we drove back to their house in Captain Cook on my first post-purchase visit, navigating the steep incline the road takes into the sub-division that is so aptly named Kona Paradise, I wondered how they managed in the snow. And then I remembered where I was. We parked above the house – level ground thankfully – and looked down on it, perched on the edge of a steep slope, overlooking the huge expanse of water that is a schooling ground for whales, a glass receptacle for the setting sun, and a vast nothingness in which to lose yourself, especially when it storms. Watching S lug my bags down those steps, I wondered how they managed with groceries. But then I came to see the stairs as they do – a homemade gym – daily exercise that doesn’t count as a regime and yet does the business. Sculpted and toned all the way.
My first impression of the house was one of openness – floor-to-ceiling windows looking out on the water safeguarded a comfortable, roomy interior with a great kitchen and fab living space. My second was one of airiness. My mind flooded with descriptives of all sorts and I settled on balmy. If a house could have a climate, their’s would be balmy. My third was what the inimitable Peg Ludtke blogged about today – the Danish concept of Hygge.
It is pronounced hoo-ga and it is a Danish word that doesn’t translate exactly but comes closest to meaning coziness, or comfort. The Danes have a whole lifestyle and philosophy and have been identified as the happiest people in the world because of it.
The downstairs space was one I secretly coveted, but their son was living there at the time. The cool, expansive living room is a perfect respite from the hot weather and where I imagined I could write my book or learn to bead or watch movies or simply sit and while away the hours between dusk and dawn. It has such a good vibe to it. It’s like a house within a house. And the bedroom – well, imagine waking up to this view every morning?
But my favourite place was the corner of the lanai. It was where I had my morning coffee and my evening cocktail. It was where we righted the world’s wrongs. It was where we planned the days ahead and revisited the days gone by. We laughed, we cried, we laughed and cried at the same time. Oh, I have so many happy memories of that house, of the time I spent there. I still remember the joy of picking a lime from their tree for my G&T and tasting a fresh avocado or pomegranate that had ripened in their back yard. And realising that the tropical fruit I was used to eating had most likely ripened in the shipping containers en route from Hawaii. I’d sit there wondering whether it was quite warm enough to walk down the hill to the black pebble beach at the bottom of the sub-division, or whether I’d drive to any one of the myriad beaches on the island. Nothing like having a choice.
And while I doubt I could ever live in Hawaii full-time – I prefer the cold weather and I’d get island fever – had I all the money in the world, I’d buy this house in a heartbeat. I’m going to miss it.