The next morning we awoke and finished our family studies and quick chores first off. Before long we heard another boat of voices outside on the water. A few new people had joined our friends from yesterday and again they came by with an invitation but this time it was for a picnic. I looked in their boat and could clearly see they had no food with them so I frantically ran inside to see what we could pack. I regretted that we had eaten all the food I made yesterday. I ended up grabbing a bag of soft apples (someone from the last island thought we might like them because we are white) and a few pomplemouse and some water.
As we sped across the perfectly clear lagoon I was taken aback again at the many different colors of blue that the Lord uses to paint his paradise. Our new friends Te’o, Haleiwa, and their male companions seemed to know the secrets of avoiding the dangers that lurk just beneath the surface of these crystal clear waters. As we got to the other side the water became shallow enough for the boys to jump out and help drag the boat close to shore.
Before long I was taken back twenty five years to a remarkably similar day. Indeed, I think it may have been the same atoll Albert took our family on that magical picnic where we all tasted raw clam lips and chased fish into his nets. As Alyssa and Eli sat weaving with the two women the men set nets for the fish. Before we could begin to be thirsty we were presented with the most delicious cold coconuts filled with slightly fizzy water. Again I smiled as they showed the kids how to get the foamy island candy from inside the spouted coconuts and made spoons to scoop the jelly out of the green ones.
Zak was in heaven to be able to play in the warm shallow water and watch tiny fish dart in and out. He and Teyauna splashed and swam while Jaeden and Dailin made a cabana out of palm fronds. As I returned to the shaded mats they had woven to rest I began talking with the girls. Norm joined us and there was that most beautiful spirit that settled on our group. Alyssa was singing softly as she played the ulelele and Orin and Eli were busy weaving all kinds of creations.
The conversation soon turned to families and marriage and other matters of the heart. Even though there is a language barrier understanding and love was felt. It felt strange to connect on such a deep level with people we will likely not meet again in this life.
It did not take long before the nets were full and the men had built a fire to roast the freshly caught fish. As soon as the flames were hot they dumped coral on top as a steaming grill. It was the most perfectly smoked roasted fish ever. I was happy we brought our pomplemouse and apples and Dailin chopped them up to serve in the woven baskets with the warm fish. Our tropical picnic feast was complete and all too soon we had to begin our journey back across the lagoon.
During the picnic I asked her about a women named Mama Fauna that I remembered had showed Naomi how to make palm hats when we were in Ahe all those years ago. She said Mama Fauna had passed away but that she was her Grandma. She said her mom knew how to weave the palm frond hats and invited Alyssa and I to come learn to make them later on in the evening.
Scents from the many colored blooms drifted through the village as we made our way to Te’o’s home. By the time we arrived we had an entourage of kids and dogs announcing our presence. Amalie was a gracious woman with long black hair and a warm smile. She gave us chairs and before long Alyssa was following along as she showed us how to weave the beautiful sun hats of years gone by.
As she wove she visited in French and we learned Amalie had seventeen children. She said many times over the years she had been asked by other villagers and family members to give away one or two of her children. This is a common practice on the islands but she insisted on keeping each of her seventeen kids. Her youngest was a beautiful nine year old who was tending to several young ones in the back garden.
She had lots of questions about our family and our life in Canada. As Alyssa was busy weaving intricate roses on her hats Amalie left for a few minutes. When she returned she presented an armful on beautiful shell necklaces she had made to give to our family. Her daughter in law came by and presented Alyssa with a carved shell bracelet and Amalie returned again with a set of twisted black pearls earrings for Alyssa.
Saying thank you never seems adequate and my only hope is one day we can repay someone somehow for all the love and generosities bestowed upon our family.