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Aloha! My name is Aurora, and I was born on Oahu but also grew up on Maui. Living in Hawaii as a child brought me the BEST childhood memories and these stories are what I will be sharing.

We lived upcountry in Pukalani where the view from our backyard were a few homes, miles of sugar cane and the ocean in the distance. At night when the cane fields were burned, the orange glow from the fire was hypnotic. During the day, we would see ashes floating in the sky, and I would jump in the air trying to catch one, hoping to not crush it between my fingers. I loved our home in Pukalani for many reasons.

It was a huge natural playground. Not the kind of playground these days with swings, slides or jungle gyms. My playground was made by God. My swings were branches or the beams in our patio that I would hang from, of course when my parents weren't looking so I wouldn't get a licking (spanking). My slide was the big grassy hill in our backyard that after my dad would mow it, we would sit on a piece of cardboard and the combination of the loose grass and cardboard would speed us down the hill. We would eventually crash into a pile of weeds at the bottom, get scratched up and do it all over again. My jungle gym was our huge mango tree which doubled as a wonderful food source when I got tired and hungry.

One time we were having my Aunty and family over for a visit. My cousin and I were playing in the nearby cane fields, and my cousin decided to catch field mice and take them back to the house. When we got home, everyone was sitting on the patio talking story. My cousin put the bucket of mice on the patio floor, and my dog being curious went over to the bucket and stuck his head in it. The bucket fell over and out came the mice! That triggered a simultaneous scream from my mom and aunt, and then panicked people to climb to higher ground. Eventually, the mice ran back to the fields and after we got yelled at there was a roar of laughter.

Back then our entertainment was the outdoors, no Gameboy or PlayStation. We would get creative and make up our own games. Once my sisters and a few of their friends had a dirt clod war. They didn't include me, but I begged to join in the action. They set up a war zone in the weeds and dirt at the bottom of our hill with barriers to hide behind. There were plenty of dirt-clods all around us. In case you don't know what a dirt clod is, it's dirt that's balled up and gets hard but crumbles (hopefully) upon impact. I was on the team with one sister, but my other sister was on the opposing team. The war had begun! Dirt clods flying everywhere. Did I mention that we didn't wear helmets or goggles? In the midst of the heated battle, I reached behind and grabbed a nice sized dirt clod and threw it as hard as I could at the enemy. Smack! Scream! Maybe a curse or two? I hear my sister on the opposing team screaming. I look up, and she has a bloody nose! I thought that dirt clod felt a little heavy, oops. Hindsight is 20/20, and one risk in playing this game is that there could potentially be a rock in the middle of your dirt clod. Even though it was unintentional, I felt horrible for my poor sis!

I believe that my love for animals began in Pukalani because we had quite a few of them. We had a beautiful German shepherd dog named King, an old horse named Katie, a cow we named Sabina, and some egg laying chickens. Our dog King was my pal and was an excellent watch dog. There was no leash law yet on Maui, and so he was free to roam anywhere but always stayed close to home. Even King didn't have the luxuries that dogs have today like dental chews. When King wanted to clean or sharpen his teeth, he would find a rock that he would hold between his paws and then grind his teeth on it. I was fascinated at how resourceful he was and noticed that the rock was semi hard and kind of chalky. Sometimes I would help him look for them. I loved and had fun with all of my animals, but King was my favorite.

Our chickens were great egg producers. As a little girl, seeing a baby chick being born was much more important to me than eating eggs for breakfast. One day I snuck down to the chicken coop and took an egg before my mom woke up to gather them all. I quietly went to my toy closet and found an Easter basket with colored grass in it and gently placed the egg underneath. Not understanding how chicks are born, I thought that I just had to keep the egg warm and soon I would hear a little baby chick chirp. Every day for a week, which is an eternity for a little girl, I would check the basket but still no chick. Three weeks may have passed, and one day my mom complained about a smell coming from my toy closet. I hid in my room while she cleaned out my toy closet afraid of what she might find. Suddenly I hear her yell "Rora"! I hesitantly walked over to her and saw the angry look on her face while she held up my basket with one hand and pinched her nose with the other. With tears in my eyes, I told my mom what I was trying to do. She lovingly laughed and said it was ok.

The last memory that made Pukalani so special is that I met my best friend there. My sister who was also my babysitter when my mom and dad were working told me she wanted me to meet another little girl my age. My sister had arranged us to meet near Seiki store. I was very shy and hesitant to go, but I followed her mostly because I had no choice. As we approached the store, I saw a girl and a dog waiting near a rock. She was shy too, and I remember that we hardly spoke at first. After a short time, we had an instant connection and were inseparable ever since. Today even though we are miles apart, we remain best friends, and I know we will be forever.

Pukalani has left many long lasting impressions on my heart and will always be very special to me. It was a simpler time where children were allowed to explore the beauty freely around them without walls, security gates and signs that say no trespassing. I treasure those days and those memories. The saying is true that "You can take the girl out of Pukalani, but you can't take Pukalani out of the girl."

All pau. Mahalo for reading!

About Author

I am a proud Hawaiian of mixed heritage and miss the islands very much. I am a creative who likes to spend her time painting, writing, playing the ukulele, and being with family. I currently live in Monterey, California but long to move back to Maui one day soon.

What a great story! I really enjoyed it. Your childhood was like mine on Oʻahu except for the cane fields. We would go ti-leaf sliding down the hillsides, pick wild guava, and yeah, no game-boy. We played all the sports according to seasons. Swim at the beach and never want to come out. Mahalo for the great memories.
Scott C.
What a great story...we must be close in age, because my hanabuddah days were they same. No electronics back then, you made your own fun outside. No "play dates" or "safe spaces". In the summer, Mom kicked us out in the morning, home for lunch (or at a friends), then kicked us out until dinner time, then back out until dark, or as late as they'd let us stay. Dirt clod fights, farm animals, the faithful dog (mine was an Irish setter named Sandy). We'd fall down & get scraped & scratched, we'd crash our bikes & cry from the pain, but after a few minutes, get going again. We weren't coddled & hovered over...we drank from streams, played in the street, & rode bikes with no helmets, and explored deep into the woods for hours & hours, and through all that, we survived. Those truly were the best days.....
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