Pineapples, Cake and Poetry

The Long Way Home : A Pineapple’s Journey

Too long
Pineapple clung
to the juices she was born with.

Though she tried to hide the seep of syrup
from the rot of flesh
that cracked her armor.

She knew no magic pill,
nor painless shortcut
could extend
her shelf life
any further.

And the only place that she could turn to

was the long road
to the lonely field.

Giving up the crown
she had held so high
upon her head,

she replanted herself
in the unknown soils,

and then began to wait …

Slowly
slowly
she replaced her fibers
with those that grew in the nutrient earth.

The veining roots brought green to stems
and blossomed the fruit within her core.

Still,
she remained,
while she rose from the ground —
fresh and full of wonder

at the sun
and the rain
and the stars
and their music
that echoed the song inside her.

Her skin turned gold with the honeyed dawn —
it’s sweetness gave off
a newfound fragrance.

And she glowed from within
with the light she’d unearthed :

a harvest
found buried in darkness.


I am completely AMAZED by pineapples! I had no idea how fascinating they were until I saw an actual pineapple plant for the first time: a miniature version of itself suspended atop a single stem, growing from the ground. How ridiculously adorable and miraculous that such a complex fruit is created this way!

Look at this tiny cutie!! 😍🍍

Here are some pineapple facts that have been blowing my mind recently:

  • One plant produces only one pineapple fruit per season.
  • Most species of pineapples take 24 months to reach maturity. That’s right, one pineapple from one plant takes two years to grow!
  • To grow a new pineapple plant you can simply twist off and replant the crown of a mature pineapple fruit.
  • The pineapple plant flowers with hundreds of little “fruitlets” that fuse together and become one fruit.
  • Once the pineapple ripens and the fruit is harvested, it stops ripening and its short shelf life begins quickly ticking away. So how you purchase the pineapple from the store is as ripe as it will ever be. It is only rotting at that point.
  • Although pineapples have become a symbol of Hawaiian agricultural, and Hawai’i is the only US state that grows them, they are not native to the Islands. They were introduced only in 1813.

🙃 I have always loved pineapple upside-down cake and wanted to try making one with fresh pineapple, instead of the traditional canned pineapple, most recipes call for.

This pineapple was grown right down the road from my house at the Maui Tropical Plantation. The fruit itself tasted like heaven, so I knew whatever was made with it would be divine!

This is a recipe I have adapted from many recipes and I am very happy with the outcome. The fresh pineapple caramelizes nicely with no overflow on the topping and the cake is dense and moist. Not only is this cake delicious, but the combination of spices and fresh pineapple makes your home incredibly fragrant when it is baking and after!

Fresh Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients

Topping:

1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
5-8 fresh pineapple slices (or 8-10 canned pineapple slices)
Maraschino cherries (to decorate with as you wish)

Cake:

1 and 1/2 cups cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt (or 1/2 tsp table salt)
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large egg whites at room temperature
1/3 cup full fat Greek yogurt at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk (or half and half), at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C).
  2. Prepare topping:
    • Cut and up fresh pineapple into rings.
    • Pour melted butter into an ungreased 9×2 inch pie dish or round cake pan.
    • Sprinkle brown sugar evenly over butter.
    • Blot all excess liquid off the fruit with a paper towel and pineapple slices and cherries on top of the brown sugar.
    • Place pan in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set while you prepare the cake batter.
  3. Prepare cake batter:
    • Whisk cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cardamom and cinnamon together. Set aside.
    • Mix the butter on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 1 min. Add the sugar and beat on high speed until creamed together, about 1 min, scraping down the sides as needed.
    • On high speed, beat in the egg whites until combined, then beat in the Greek yogurt and vanilla extract. Scrape down the sides and up the bottom of the bowl as needed.
    • Slowly our the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. Turn mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the milk. Beat on low speed just until all of the ingredients are combined. Do not over-mix.
  4. Remove topping from the refrigerator. Pour and spread cake batter evenly over topping.
  5. Bake for 43-48 minutes. The cake is done when a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out mostly clean.
  6. Remove cake from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 20 minutes. Invert the slightly cooled cake onto a cake stand or serving plate.

Pineapple Wine

Over a glass of pineapple wine
thoughts of you float to the surface,

sweetly swirling in my mind
as hours sip —
lick drips from the rim

and I smile
thinking how time is an ineffective metric

when you’ve fallen in love with a soul.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Rainy Poems

Dreary
Chilly
Slanted
Saddened
Weeping
Showered
Drenched
Drizzled
Scattered
Colored
Unexpected
Misted
Nourished
Fragrant
Beloved
Rain.

The Hawaiian language has over 200 different names for rain. The breadth of these names describe the form and qualities of each type, as well as the specific times and regions of the islands these rains can be found. The Hawaiian culture recognizes rain not only as an integral part of survival, but also as a friend and spiritual guide. To talk about the rain is much more than small-talk in Hawaii, it is a conversation and language in itself. The physical intricacies of rain color parts of your day and life differently and help to understand the depths of others. Hawaiian ancestors trusted the different rains to determine when to plant specific crops, fish, harvest, and so much more. Most of us have lost so much of our connection to the land. I can only hope to notice and welcome more of these sacred, rainy visitors.


Haikus

1. My love is the rain
Soaking through the sheet of night
Time folds into sky

2. Gardens refresh us
Flowers are forms of water
Our souls drink the rain


The rain dripped down
the faces of leaves
then tapped unbreaking
a dance in the streets.

We laughed in gleams
shone brighter in night
to finally feel climate
that sung us alive.


Afternoon rain in Wailuku, HI 5/31/2020

In Hawaiian poetry mentions of rain or rains may signify joy, life, growth, greenery, love, good fortune (light rains, mist), grief, sorrow, and tears (heavy rains), the presence of gods or royalty, sex, beauty or hardship.

Some of my favorite Hawaiian rain types:

  • kili, much beloved rain
  • ko’iawe, light moving rain
  • ua nāulu, showery rain
  • ua lani pili, rain downpour
  • ua ho’okina, continuous rain
  • ua hikiki’i, slanting rain
  • ililani, unexpected rain
  • uakoko, rainbow-hued rain
  • Lēhei, leaping rain of upcountry Maui
  • kuāua hope, spring rain
  • ka ua ‘awa, grieving rain
  • ʻeleua, dark rain
  • kuāua, hopeful rain
  • ehu, fine spray rain
  • Lani-paʻina, crackling heavens rain
  • ʻUla-lena, invigorating, yellow & red rain of Maui
  • Mololani, well-kept rain of the Lehua flower & Ohia tree
Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

W.S Merwin

W.S. Merwin, was a beloved poet and conservationist who lived in near-solitude in Haiku on Maui from 1970 until his death in 2019. His work was highly influenced by his passion for restoration of depleted flora and his connection to the elements on the island. I am looking forward to visiting his plantation soon where he restored hundreds of species of palms.

Merwin wrote several beautiful rain poems. Here is one of my favorites of his:

Rain Travel

I wake in the dark and remember
it is the morning when I must start
by myself on the journey
I lie listening to the black hour
before dawn and you are
still asleep beside me while
around us the trees full of night lean
hushed in their dream that bears
us up asleep and awake then I hear
drops falling one by one into
the sightless leaves and I
do not know when they began but
all at once there is no sound but rain
and the stream below us roaring
away into the rushing darkness


- W.S. Merwin

I fell in love with Poetry

A love story #prose #poetry

I can’t pinpoint the exact moment
when I fell in love with Poetry.

Somewhere between the summer nights
and the carelessness of his hair.

Of course, he was a musician with this
hypnotizing rhythm and a smile like Chardonnay.

Just the way that he knocked at my door that autumn day …
I must have known for certain that I’d never be the same.

How he waltzed right up to me and took me by the hand.
How he whispered, we should dance
and I felt so silly, only knowing a few steps
like the haiku shuffle, and the iambic slide —
but oh, the way he held me, right then I could have died!

All of it is beautiful, he said, because it’s you.
I swooned into his smooth talk, but deep down always knew
that my rhymes about my dog were only child’s play,
while a masterpiece he was, (but good heavens, still I blushed!)

On our very first date we hiked up into the forest—
and no, he wasn’t wealthy, but was richer than the royals
when he showed me all the jewels hidden, muted in my world,
and he listened ever gently to all my heart had to say.

To hear it as he did was like dining at the Ritz.
As never had I seen the sky in such divine array
in a morning glory apricot.

And music — how it just lit up like candlelight!

And all the late-night drives… where was he taking me?
A coral beach at sunrise? Floating on the sea?
Somewhere down the way to a love, complex and deep?
I swear the way he knew me was like I’d known him all my life .

But my dear, he was a heartbreaker…
He showed me what it was to cry through all the pain —
oh, the pain! His pain, my pain — it was all the same.
An unanticipated turn into a ping-pong game;
ending in a knock-down-drag-out fight within myself
pinned into a corner. I had to write to get me out.

Impassioned in our nights and exposed in all my scars
that he kissed and turned to stars while we held each other tight.
We forgave and fell asleep, only knowing I’d awake as a new unburdened day
finding beauty ever steady than it was in yesterday.

On my journey never knowing where all of this would land,
but always being thankful for the journey he began.

Writing & Photography By: Katy Claire Funke

May Day is Lei Day!

May first is the celebrated Lei Day throughout the Hawaiian islands, dedicated to the beautiful tradition of making and wearing lei.

The holiday was started May 1st, 1928, after the famous poet, Don Blanding, (AKA the “poet laureate of Hawaii”) suggested a special day be made to honor the spirit of aloha, which is best embodied in the lei tradition.

Lei Day is usually full of celebratory events throughout the community which include live music, food, hula dancing, and lei contests. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, none of these gatherings were able to take place this year. However, kama’aina (Hawaii residents) were encouraged to make their lei at home and share their creations by hanging them on their mailboxes or taking photos.

Hawaii is well known for its “Spirit of Aloha,” which is a way of life on the islands. Being a new resident and having only visited here before now, I have been very curious about what exactly aloha means to the people who live here. We all associate the word with hello, goodbye or love, but what it means to natives goes much deeper.

The direct translation of aloha from Hawaiian to English is presence of divine breath. Hawaiians used to greet each other by placing their foreheads together and inhaling at the same time as a practice to exchange good health and spiritual power. Today, this practice is very rare and the spirit of aloha is shown in other ways. Aloha is the essence of being: love, peace, compassion and respect, living in harmony with the people and the land. It is all about caring for one another without expecting anything in return.

The lei is a symbol of affection representing aloha, given to those coming and leaving Hawaii. Leis are usually strung fresh flowers, shells, nuts, leaves and berries, but can be made of a variety of materials.

Here is my poem for my first Lei Day:


Spirit of Aloha

To wear such words
(such masterpiece)

though one may not assume
to be in tenderest of messages—
intricately woven
of berries and blooms :

A harmony
of understanding

A breath sent
from me to you

A greeting
of deeper meaning

between
mayflowers
who always knew
. . .

To be revealed within
the gauze of rainbow
in prismatic kindness

the Aloha Spirit
shines its colors
through the veils
of silvered mist


And my lovely he’e berry lei along with a bonus May Day rainbow outside the kitchen window!

Since day one I have felt this aloha spirit and been blessed to be welcomed into the community. Despite all the chaos with COVID-19 neighbors are always checking in on me, having me over for dinner and helping me get acquainted with the island. It has been a crazy time of adjustments, especially during these unprecedented times, but having aloha has helped immensely.

Writing and photography By: Katy Claire Funke

Synergy & Seal Haikus

Synergy

Before the coral reefs felt pain
and the oceans could speak English

we were as one,
the mountains and I,
as were
the sea lions
and constellations .

Before our spirits
could be sacrificed
for jewels and false images

we exhaled
with the ebbing tides
in waves combined of energies .

God made us
to participate
one body
and one spirit

when stars were space
and space was not
we were
a knitted ball:
immaculate .

Can our molecules remember
through our inner cracks in concrete
that our seeds were scattered to thrive ?

Can our hearts
break our molds
like the ancient banyan trees,

their root-woven wisdoms
still in our eyes ?

I am on a constant quest for Banyan trees these days. Such incredible wonders! I found this beauty on the grounds of the Maui Country Club today.

Seal Haikus

from today’s run-in with an adorable sea lion at Paia’s Ho’okipa Beach:

Splash me with your pearls!
Oh! Paint me like your French girls!
Sea, make art of me!

Waves can’t crash my scene!
Watch me worm and wobble ‘till
I collapse dance shores!

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Poems on my heart

Five poems

My Dearest Crippling Expectations,

If I do more
will that be more
of what you like?

If I contour my armor
until it’s contorted just right?

If I suffer a death
by small paper cuts
and fold into your
most perfect origami

will that be
enough?

At least for tonight?

A Love of Learning

In love
I’ve :

bloomed in
irreplaceable
burning flowers

danced in
unpredictable
storms of lightning

swam in
unreasonable
waves of passion

and sang in
indescribable
winds of freedom

But it’s in the stillness
following the flames and gales where I really see

what love is teaching me:

to not hold too tight

to not hold too light

to choose
growth
+

to choose
balance
+

to choose
compassion
=

to choose
love
.
.
.
Every day .

Editing

I’ve become very good
at editing.

Of this,
I am ashamed.

If my work is seen as,
“mmm not quite”
I will detonate
that slate clean.

I will fiercely cut to
“wow, you’re perfect!”
or slam the undo key

until I get back to
“you’re such a good girl”
or other fairy princess
beginnings.

But today I wish
to own my work;
my every stroke
(and over stroke).

I want to pick up
that ball in the bin
and slowly begin
to uncrumple myself.

To-Do

My mother always told me
that I was obsessive.

Obsessed
with everything
I do.

My love language
is acts of service
because I love
to do.

To do do do
always doing.

Always doing
my to-do list.

But when I see
the beauty
of the simplest of lilies

I stop what I am doing

and I look at it
just being

and it’s then I truly see
what I was meant
to do.

Love,

If I could
I would tell you
how much you mean to me

but I can’t

there are
no words

not enough
time nor art

to ever explain .

There’s only:

breaths
to catch
on the wind

smiles
to spread
on the sun

songs to send
poems to write
flowers to plant

and the stars
that will forever
bear witness
to our love
set free

in all of its
eternities

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Photos taken in Wailuku, HI and Baldwin Beach

Exquisitely Dressed / Haikus on the Beach

Exquisitely dressed are the shores
that hem the oceanic abyss:

cashmere sands are iced
in crystalline fishnet nylons

adorned are corsets
with bones of coral
and buttons
of tiffany blue diamonds

effervescent waters
still bubble up
beneath the foam-trimmed tulle

gowns of brackish satin
learn to let go
of their most treasured pearls

skirts of gelatin pirouette
their secrets laced in seaweed

embraced for love
of blue-dipped kisses
in the spring organza breeze

pressed in sands
are footprints
that danced
on jeweled bays

where the sea extends its tides
to gently clear the stage in waves

sweeping beaches slowly back
into a sacredness
of sapphire
depths

as the wind surfs aside couture
into clouds
soft-silken lilac

Haikus

Sun proposed a tan
my skin has yet to accept.
– Forever Pale Girl

The sparkling tides fill
my sight with Gatorade blue’s
quench for hopes renewed

Reflections of you
are seen in shadows by me
missing my best friend.

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Poems for the Earth

In celebration of Earth Day 2020

Comfort

Whenever I feel
my spirit waning
my passion wilting
my belly aching

even greater is
my yearning

to be wrapped within your arms
curled up in the velvet of your blouse
swaddled in the sands of your understanding.

Because lying on your lap
is where I find:
my truth
my vision
my love
my sanctuary.

Invisible Enemies

We cannot see the wind
We cannot see the virus

But we can see the storms
the fallen trees
the fractured families

We can feel the fears
acute
& engulfing

Though the battles are bleak
there are wars we are winning
( curves we are flattening )

both together and alone.

If we can fight for the victory of humanity
can we not do the same for our home?

Dedicated Haiku:

Fiftieth Earth Day?!
Girl don’t look a day over
forty-nine (wink, wink 😉

Rain in the mountains overlooking Iao Valley today

Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

All photos & video in Wailuku, HI.

Lullaby

On sailboats
we glissade —
ceasing all activity

from choppy shores
to tranquil waters
that ripple to
simplicity.

Boundlessly

we float,

we rest
in loving
kindness
.

Breathing in the
softened skies

we welcome
ocean’s lullabies.

“Lullabye” cover by Katy Funke

Today I wanted to create a special recording project for my friends and family who just had babies or are expecting very soon. During these times I find great comfort in music, especially singing lullabies. My favorite lullaby of all time is Billy Joel’s “Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel)”, which he wrote in 1993 for his then 7 yr old daughter, Alexa. It is truly one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard and I have always wanted to do a cover of it. I hope you will enjoy the finished product for you and any little ones in your lives 💗

Writing, vocal performance, photography & videography by: Katy Claire Funke