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Stars at Tallapoosa

August 19, 2013

Because it seemed such good luck that to talk about it might make it not come true, I didn’t say much to anyone about going on two beach vacations this year; I believe there can be no greater pleasure than going to the beach. Eleanor and Walker and I kept adapting a quotation from David Sedaris’ essay (in Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim) “The Ship Shape” (previously titled “Our Perfect Summer” when published in The New Yorker) in which he tries to imitate the tone of a woman who says “my home…well, one of my homes…” but we changed the word “home” to “vacation.”

Last week my mother took the whole family to Maui, as Walker’s graduation present—there were ten of us–my family, Walker’s girlfriend, and my brother and his wife and two daughters. We ranged in age from 12 to 83.  photo-129

We stayed at a Marriott near where some friends live in Kihei and met them a couple of times for meals and advice on sightseeing. We all drove up Haleakala and saw the crater and the silversword.

We went snorkeling around Molokini crater from a big catamaran called Four Winds II and saw lots of tropical fish swimming around. I went snorkeling again around some rocks at the edge of Wailea beach and saw more fish, plus an octopus.

photo-114 Some of us had surfing and paddleboard lessons, and while everyone but my mother and me went on a zipline tour, the two of us went to the “serenity pool” which was accessible and at least looks out over the ocean.

We went to the Old Lahaina Luau, which was in a gorgeous spot and well organized, so it was lots of fun.  photo-151Here is a picture I took of Walker and Stephanie standing in line for the luau–looking about as happy as 17-year-olds can–and one of our family inside by the water’s edge, wearing leis.

photo-179We saw a kind of Hawaiian history opera called Ulalena, which was spectacular. In the lobby of the theater, some Japanese tourists asked to have their picture made with Walker, because they found him quite remarkably tall; they posed pointing up at his chin, one on either side.

Ron and I went to the Lahaina Burger King for our 31st wedding anniversary. It was certainly the prettiest Burger King I’ve ever seen.

photo-176Every place we went looked like a postcard picture. There was lots of light, and both air and water were very clear. I thought of Wallace Stevens and how much he loved the tropics:

Stars at Tallapoosa

The lines are straight and swift between the stars.
The night is not the cradle that they cry,
The criers, undulating the deep-oceaned phrase.
The lines are much too dark and much too sharp.

The mind herein attains simplicity.
There is no moon, no single, silvered leaf.
The body is no body to be seen
But is an eye that studies its black lid.

Let these be your delight, secretive hunter,
Wading the sea-lines, moist and ever-mingling,
Mounting the earth-lines, long and lax, lethargic.
These lines are swift and fall without diverging.

The melon-flower nor dew nor web of either
Is like to these. But in yourself is like:
A sheaf of brilliant arrows flying straight,
Flying and falling straightway for their pleasure,

Their pleasure that is all bright-edged and cold;
Or, if not arrows, then the nimblest notions,
Making recoveries of young nakedness
And the lost vehemence the midnights hold.

It’s easy for the mind to attain simplicity when everything seems so clear-cut. When the sun goes down, it gets dark. Even the time change worked like that, for me—when it got dark, I was ready for bed. When the sun came up, I was ready to spring out of bed and seek out more pleasures, bright-edged and cold like that first shock of submerging the body in ocean.  photo-144

Now we are back, and getting everyone ready to go off to college. Enough with family togetherness, for a while. Did any of you get some family togetherness this summer?

12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2013 11:20 pm

    Awesome. Hawaii is one of two states I need to visit before I can state I’ve seen ’em all.

  2. PAJ permalink
    August 20, 2013 10:48 am

    Thanks for sharing all the photos. What a wonderful time!

    We did have “family togetherness” this summer, ending it with a vacation to Maine and Rhode Island just before E had to return to college. We explored Maine’s rocky coasts, saw “the cottages” of Newport, and dined on seafood daily (joking about our “afternoon lobster” and “evening lobster”). It was a perfect end to our summer together.

    • August 22, 2013 9:35 am

      We had family togetherness with just the four of us first, and then with ten of us. The logistics got increasingly difficult.
      Did you see the bathroom in Newport where the sink is made out of semi-precious stone? I love the idea of eating two lobsters a day.

  3. August 20, 2013 8:07 pm


    • August 22, 2013 9:36 am

      It is lovely. I’ve never seen an island of Hawaii that didn’t have postcard-perfect views from almost any angle.

  4. August 21, 2013 10:59 am

    what fun! i want to go there, one day.

    • August 22, 2013 9:36 am

      It’s worth saving up for and then flying for hours and hours.

  5. August 22, 2013 9:22 am

    What a wonderful vacation! It sounds like you all had a lovely time and made some lasting memories. I went to Hawaii with six friends when I graduated high school. We stayed on Oahu for a week and I still remember that trip fondly.

    • August 22, 2013 9:37 am

      Sounds like you should go back and see some of the other islands! My favorite, I think, is still the big island.

  6. August 23, 2013 12:08 pm

    You have the best vacations! It looks and sounds like you had a lovely time, and what an awesome graduation present, too!

    • August 25, 2013 9:04 am

      It was an awesome graduation present, especially the bringing-the-girlfriend-along part!

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