Rapunzel by the sea

Locked in manic-tower thoughts,
I’ve found a walk beside the ocean,
beach-combing along the sunset’s
water-braid aglow
to be the best of Earth’s solutions
to the bursting of my mind’s latch
opened to a staircase
leading back into my body,
spiraled down into the sand around my feet.
And in breathing in the love of nature
I am rescued
from the tangles in my sanity.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

The Silversword

This is a true story.

There is a plant who can survive
in only ash and ice, and the harshest light.

They are warriors planted in the sky
from the rebel grounds of ocean floors.

These plants are known as Silverswords.

These plants grow only here.

They wear their suits reflecting sun
and fight the gales in uniform.

However, these knights have a secret they hold
much deeper than meets the eye …

Much like the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz,
their quest in life : to find their true hearts.

The heart they’ll hold but keep from light
until they are ready to blossom and die…

Each plant then waits in contemplation … years
(some up to fifty!)
Waiting in their questioning for a moment of truth
unfurling.

When they decide to give this heart—
breaking bread with dawn’s communion,

they show rare beauty, overflowing,
and color the skies with freedom blooming.



Poetry is very much alive in this incredible world!

The majestic Silversword plant grows only at the summit of Mt. Haleakalā on Maui and Mauna Kea on the big island of Hawaii. They arrived an estimated one million years ago on winds from ancestor tarweeds in North America. They are a highly endangered species and are very protected in their volcanic environments by conservation efforts.

Their leaves are covered with tiny silver hairs that reflect the intense sunlight and protect them from radiation at 10,000 feet above sea level. Their striking appearance is compared to a bouquet of shining swords. They can collect water from the snow storms that happen at the summit and store enough water in their leaves to survive the summer.

What makes these plants most awe-inspiring is that they live between 15-50 years, only bloom once in their lifetime, and then immediately die afterwords. It’s like they give thanks to the world and then prostrate themselves.

What a wonder of nature! I am so curious about how each plant knows when it’s their time to bloom… I wonder why some wait decades longer than others before unveiling what they have created inside. Very mysterious…

Their flowering is a spiraling rosette of 30 to 600 disk florets. The flowers are deep plum-colored and look very similar to their relative, the sunflower. These peculiar blooms can tower at over 8 feet tall!

The rare drosophila fly pollinator!

The plant starts drying up after it’s final bloom dies and then it turns into a skeleton. The good news is that a new baby Silversword can then rise up out of the husk of the dead plants. ☺️

I felt very honored to witness the rare flowering of some miraculous Silverswords on Mt. Haleakalā this past weekend.

All of my facts come from my very knowledgeable neighbor, Scott — a Naturalist who has worked protecting Silverswords on Haleakalā for over 20 years!

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Sea of Dreams

When I wrap myself in the world you write
I can fall asleep for days.

Every word
washes me —
over, under,
rocking me
from sand to pearl-star.

And I know

it’s only
you,

the infinite ocean
I taste and crave.

It’s only you
who knows my dark
and glows my dreams this way.

Before I knew your poetry
or the sunset on your skin
it was the truth that shone
in your eyes of night
that I gave a kiss of no return.

And now I know
I left my soul
on the lips of endless sea
the lips that sing my sweetest dreams,

a song of

only

you.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Ocean Passions (Poems)

Ocean

I’m hypnotized by the rise and fall.
I try to match my breaths
in sync with the waves —
soak in sights, smells, tastes,
( galaxies… too vast )
the breeze on my neck
( too much ) .
I will sleep with just the thought of you.


Mermaid

Lost at sea,
sound or insane,
her compass only points to you.

You drown your navigation maps.

The North Star collapses
to a singularity of night
that pulls your boat inside her soul.

Light-years beyond
fathoms below.

( My heart gets tied to yours. )


Black sand beaches

Black sand beaches
line your mind
between the ocean and fantasy.

I find you
shipwrecked —
your eyes are tracing
the delicate edges of every wave;

brimmed with thirsting adorations
( your praise to waters
heavenly ) …

Tonight,
we do not fall from grace,

we dive

into the sea.


Harmony

On the breeze, your song
takes the breath of day :

The sun falls for the ocean.
A metronome slows to your strum

on a beach. Twilight blushes
in the shy of your smile —
pearl, half-moons
rising in my eyes;

a blossom of harmony
for the music that we write.

My voice warms
under your hands
like a wave
(a guitar’s body-shape)
that melts
to a sizzle of foam on the sand.

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Into Thin Air

And that day
we hiked away from the forest —

the cling of moss and whispers of pines
shedding off of our skin
as we drifted up through alien shrublands.

We carried only our dreams
and each other’s sunburnt hands

as life diminished behind us :
green became silver

and the earth
was sacred —
stripped down to its essence
of basalt and iron silence.

We stepped into the procession of clouds,
leading to a lunar sanctuary in the sky

where there was only
the breath shared between us
and eternity.


Writing in the clouds 10,000 feet above sea-level today in the crater of the sacred House of the Sun: Mt. Haleakalā … ☁️☀️🌙🗻

The shining Silversword Plant found at the summit of Mt. Haleakalā and nowhere else on the planet!!
Mossy pines in Hosmer Grove, mid-way up to the summit.

I might still be lightheaded from this otherworldly journey… ✨ definitely more to come from it!

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Ocean Meditation

I followed my heart today
and, of course,
I was lead back to the sea.

Only this time
it was different

( or maybe it was me … )

The energy was somehow
more wild,

though there was no wind
( hardly a breeze ).

The waves were mighty —
unbreakably alive,
unpredictably
free .

In awe

I was
mesmerized
by every movement.

The give and take of
every
breath

filled me,

stilled me

in a most profound respect,

as I watched its fireworks display:
a new surprise with every wave

sometimes blue
sometimes green

some exploding —
foam flickering
then fading.

Sea spray falling
like fire
to my lips.

Every
moment.

Every
energy

here

now.

In you,
In me,
In love,

In and from
The Ocean.

( Maybe,
next time,
I’ll be the wave
that meets you there. )


Makena Beach is a spacious state park on the leeward side of Maui. I love coming here for its seclusion and the way it sets a majestic and meditative stage to watch the ocean. I felt an intense calling to this beach today and arrived to find its waves more roiling than I have ever seen them before. The water is known for being pretty calm there, however, it was the breeze that I usually find there that was completely calm. It gave me more of a still reverence to its glorious display — an uniquely divine experience to be present in. 💙

I couldn’t help but think of a fireworks display with the 4th of July next week! 🎇

Wave video – Makenna Beach 6/28/2020

Today, the spotlight of nature’s stage most
centered
on the sea.

Song of the Sea

Now I understand
what you tried to say to me

when the sun shone high
on those sand dunes by the beach

and your voice was singing clearly
of green and azure waves,

but all I saw
were shadows
on a desert that day.

Though the lyrics of your music
sounded true and so familiar,
my ignorance was dissonant
as I tried to sing along.

Still, patiently,
you listened,
as I practiced
and practiced

till I finally
was immersed
in the song of your sea.

And while swaying in the depths
to the lull of the current —

that music,
I discovered,
always played
within me.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

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

Lemon bars + poetry

A lemon’s role

So quickly
Lemon learned
she would never get the lead …

Her role was always
supporting
with a zest
or a squeeze.

She had accepted her career as :
“the faintest essence”
or “the tasteful garnish.”

In the business of
breakfast, lunch and dinner
she was always
the slice of bitter
on the dish.

But then
she learned
she could be a star

in changing courses to desserts.

As “The Lemon Bar”
or “The Lemon Cake”

she found her purpose in life
was to celebrate!


I have always had a super soft spot in my heart for lemon. It is, without a doubt, my favorite dessert flavor! 🍋

Although I find excuses to have lemon desserts all year long, with summer now just around the corner, it is the perfect time to bake lemon bars!

This lemon bar recipe is one that I have adapted from my neighbor, Melanie’s, family cookbook. She truly makes the best lemon bars I have eaten in my life, so I didn’t change very much from her original recipe. I even got the beautiful lemons to make these bars from the Meyer Lemon Tree in her backyard.

Lemon Bars

Time: 55 min.
Yield: 12 bars

Crust

Ingredients:

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 stick softened butter at room temperature

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all crust ingredients into mixing bowl
  3. Beat on low speed, scraping sides of bowl, until mixture is crumbly (about 2-3 minutes).
  4. Press mixture onto the bottom of a 8X8 ungreased pan.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes until lightly browned.

Filling

Ingredients:

3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs room temperature
2 tbs all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
6 tbs fresh lemon juice (about two lemons)
1 tsp lemon zest

Directions:

  1. Combine filling ingredients into mixing bowl
  2. Beat on low speed, scraping down sides, until mixed well (1-2 minutes).
  3. Pour over hot crust.
  4. Continue baking for 18-20 minutes, or until filling is set.
  5. Let cool completely.
  6. Sprinkle top with sifted powdered sugar.

Lemon Tree

Every morning I climb
the steepest hill

with the remains
of my orchid’s fallen blooms

and those hibiscus
that softened
with rot
in my hair.

Their lives having amounted
to only the brevity
of my joy.

And I wonder
if they did or did not
have souls

as I lay them under the lemon tree.

And if they did,
but especially if not,

I pray that now, they may be
free.


Lemonade

I feel you
in the song of summer

the buzz of honeybees
and hummingbirds
fill my chest

in a resonance
that lingers
long after
the guitar strums

and the bashful plucks
at blades of grass

under a tree of butterflies
and bittersweet fruit

your eyes shine
like nectar
in the blooms of shade …

when I think of your kiss :
like sunshine
and lemonade.


Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke