A River Runs Through Me

My anticipation, ripe as the bulbous breadfruit drooping through the leaf-ceilinged path, transports me down the trail to my favorite stretch of sand on the entire planet. Not ranked in the Top 10 Beaches by Condé Nast, not even on the radar of most Hawaii guidebooks, still, in my years of global travel to dozens of islands and even more country’s coastlines, this remains my personal favorite.

Maybe it’s the welcoming warmth I sink down in as Shadow’s paws imprint the unmarred sand canvas. Or the disturbingly perfect waves I mind-surf as the razor-sharp reef forbids most from ever entering this particular piece of the Pacific. I grudgingly accept that I’ll never paddle out here, or swing my arms inside one of these barrels. Tube-riding over coral heads, like the speed of these waves, has passed me by.

The tree-lined boundary encases us in luscious isolation encouraging my usually-tense shoulders to drop a half-inch. Jaw muscles release into a half-smile as I spy the goofy neon-green-mossy rocks near the shoreline that appear Dr. Seuss-inspired.

Like a friend’s inside joke, I’m not aware of the invisible wave rolling up to my ankles until a slightly-warmer-than-air sensation tickles my feet.

Maybe it’s the infrequent pieces of blue sea glass winking up from the sand, or the gasp-producing sunrise shell exposing an edge of its rare perfection. Even my materialistic delight knows the objects found are only a small dimension of the bounty.

Sandpipers teeter on scrawny legs, pecking for miniscule sand crabs then awkwardly flap upward, avoiding a competitive Shadow-attack. Urchin hide in the crevices with their savage beauty and willingness to impale my foot if I get too close. These Wana share a lesson in self-care when allowing themselves to be gently held but firing off a round of searing retribution if dealt with just a little too roughly.

Pausing under the towering, gnarled tree roots, beaten bare at the high waterline by winter surf, I wonder how they go on with their naked undersides exposed and without the earth’s nurturing support. How does it feel to proudly flaunt the toll the elements have taken?

Elepaio sing their morning praises of gratitude, having not yet become apathetic to the spectacle that surrounds us. Looking skyward to spy the birds, I’m struck by the unflinching calm-in-the-chaos surveillance of the thousand-foot sea cliff behind the trees.

As Shadow respectfully sniffs the air around a napping monk seal, I presume this endangered mammal’s fatigue from mothering and journeying is far greater than mine and bask for a moment in her peaceful, predators-forgotten smiling face.

Like an exclamation point, whales breach and tail-slap a hundred yards out, playfully showing-off their power without concern for who it might offend.

Eventually, we come upon the gurgling stream flowing from a hidden waterfall. A brook so sweetly serene it makes my stomach ache with longing for this level of poise. Wading through the crisp, clear water that forgives my steps and flows around them, I sense the grace penetrate my being as the river runs through me.