‘Ehu ahiahi ma Kapua – Dusk at Kaimana Beach
A few weeks ago, I finally took a break from my typical weekend schedule of work, reading, writing, and more reading. When I used to be out in West O‘ahu and needed mental relief, I would head out at high speed on Farrington Highway to Keawa‘ula—commonly known as Yokohama—at the end of the road. There, in relative isolation and peace and quiet, I could watch the setting of the sun in the mythic landscape once walked by Kāne and Hi‘iakaikapoliopele. On a few lucky occasions, I was greeted by koholā, the whales, right at the time of sunset.
Now that I’m right in the middle of Honolulu, it’s a bit harder to find that kind of quiet escape. Luckily, on the day I went out to take a break, I arrived on a mellow day at Kaimana Beach, by the old natatorium and Kapi‘olani Park. The tradewinds, the Moa‘e, were blowing, rustling the leaves of the niu, the coconut trees. As sunset approached, the sky turned to a series of soft pinks and purples. The experience was simply transcendent.
As the sun sank down into the vast ocean, I thought of Kāne and Kanaloa, our two akua, or deities, who had journeyed through the islands of Hawai‘i, opening springs of fresh water and enjoying ‘awa (kava). Interestingly enough, the sun itself is a kinolau (manifestation) of Kāne, known as ka ‘ōnohi o ka lā, “the eyeball of the sun”. And here with the setting of the sun of Kāne into the vast ocean of Kanaloa, the deity of the seas, I witnessed the ephemeral meeting of these two divine companions, a kind of communion that takes place at the end of every day.
After I returned home, I felt the need to find the old name for Kaimana Beach, also known as Sans Souci. According to Place Names of Hawai‘i, the former name of the area in the vicinity was Kapua – “The Flower”. Once a famous surfing spot in times past, it was filled in to make what is now Kapi‘olani Park. While Kapua may not be the precise name, it was a relief to find a name of the past blossom within my mind.
Going through the snapshots that I had taken that afternoon, I was particularly taken aback by the natural gradients of light of the sky at dusk at Kapua. The figurative expression for dusk in Hawaiian, I learned, is ‘ehu ahiahi – “the dust of the evening”, also signifying twilight and old age.