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

Nourishing poems

Sometimes we stop and look around
in these high mountains climbed.

We think of all we were
and how much we’ve changed.

How we are no longer holding ourselves
tightly coiled
as fiddleheads,

but know
now
we can unfurl :

hearts open to the elements —
accepting
what is nourishing.

We carry and admire those
glistening raindrops :

each cherished memory
and lesson learned.

Wishing only
to love
as the miracle
of the fern.

Hiking Waihe’e Ridge Trail 6/13/2020

In abundance
of information
I become
impoverished
of the nourishing.

A benumbed machine
shifts around heaps
of matter in my mind.

Unending fragments,
forgotten in meaning,
clutter in corners of my soul.

While endlessly scrolling
through mixed-messages

words start overflowing —

I can’t sift through the madness.

When my hard drive sputters
and my bandwidth expires

all I can do
is start
cleaning my house.


Sometimes I need a break from social media and the news.

Photos from the Kula farmer’s market this weekend.

What is it that refreshes and nourishes your soul?

My favorite juice joint on Maui is Gypsy Juice. I don’t just like coming here because of the delicious drinks, but also because the girl who makes them is one of the kindest humans I have ever encountered. Talking with her is just as nourishing as her creations!💗

Writing and photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Responsibility

World Oceans Day 2020

I unravel
my apology
in her waves

and I ask
what I can do.

The moon pulls at the hem
of her blue dress
and her hands slip away
from mine.

She leaves
what she can no longer carry
on the sand :

The starving sea turtle
who ate too many
plastic jellyfish.

The poisoned octopus
offers me
just one
of his three
landfilled hearts

with his
dying wish:

“If you
won’t take it
who will?”


World Oceans Day became internationally recognized by the UN in 2008 and has been growing in popularity and participation every year since. The day was created to recognize the implementation of worldwide Sustainable Development Goals and to encourage public interest in caring for our oceans.

Living near an ocean is new to me, having lived most of my life in landlocked states like Idaho and Colorado. Before, my awareness of the detrimental effects of plastic pollution on our environment had always been in the back of my mind, but not something I took daily responsibility for. Now, having the privilege to visit the ocean regularly, this awareness has quickly moved to the front of my mind, as I’m reminded of the immediate and lasting impacts our waste has.

As we all know, this impact is especially true for our single-use plastics (water bottles, plastic straws, styrofoam take-out boxes, etc.) that are only useful to us for an average of 12 minutes, while it takes an estimated 400 years for these plastics to decompose. According to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a garbage truck worth of these plastics are dumped into the ocean every minute, that is 5-13 million metric tons a year! They estimate that by 2050 the weight of plastics in the ocean will exceed the weight of fish in the ocean!

The particles from these plastics are unfortunately consumed by marine life, as they mistake the foreign objects for food. Sea turtles often mistake plastic bags as jellyfish and end up starving, never knowing they didn’t actually eat a jellyfish. Not to mention the toxins from these plastics are linked to a plethora of health problems for marine life and for us humans, who consume the fish.

This is a very daunting and troubling issue that is not going to be solved by just a few. To make a change we all need to do what we can, starting with just one simple thing in our lives. That could be bringing reusable bags to the grocery store, using a reusable water bottle, or refusing plastic straws at restaurants. The World Oceans Day website, as well as many others like Plastic Oceans have plenty of great resources and ideas on how we can do our part!

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

Watercolors

In the twilight we marvel
at this watercolored world.

Our eyes, a blend
with the marbled sea
and the sky’s pearlescent peach.

I try to outline the horizon,

but in dampened air
my pen just bleeds.

The sea breeze paints us
soft and blue
as we slip into the mist.

We share a sacred
intimacy —

within our souls
our time exists.

( The strokes we make
defining depths
just cause more drips
and swell the canvas. )

So instead,

we swim
in azure and ink

admiring
how every artist

paints love

so differently.


Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Mother’s Day Poems

Garden

She taught me how to tend the garden
planted in my soul:

the times to sow,
the times to to prune,
to nourish, protect and cradle.

But never neglect
to pray with hope —
for the blooms will come back,
( they will always come back
).


On the beach today

On the beach today
curled up in the warm island sand
mothers hold their babies in the surf.

I’ve heard mothers described as
islands :
safe places to land.
But they also must be
oceans :
endless depths of surging love.


Mom’s store

My mother owned the only grocery store in town.
Yes, only a grocery store,
but equal to a kingdom
in my little girl brain.

This is my mom’s store!
I would exclaim,
as if she were a queen.
They would tell me,
you look just like her.
A statement instantly perking up my princess crown.


Artist

She claims to have no artistry
yet,
an artist is all I see.

In ways she paints in scents of color
with arms outstretched like salvia
in flowers she plants the love for others —
her heart of honeyed dahlia.


Writing and featured image by: Katy Claire Funke

My obsession with florals comes from my mom. Here are some shots from her garden this Mother’s Day:

He is

He is
the river’s
soft and steady rhythm
holding me by firelight.

The moonlit promise
of the ocean’s
stormy kiss of life.

He is:
The love song of the sun.
The crimsoning of night.
The eyes of valor
and grace that saves you,

and every poem rain could write.

He is
the hum of heartache
orbiting
the planets
and trees at dawn;

the painted dreams,
unheard,
unseen —
the breaths within the song.

He is:
The journey worth your while.
The bursting of your heart.
The touching of all scars
and forgetting of all time.

He is
He is

What it means to be alive.


Writing & Photography by: Katy Claire Funke

Orchids

My heart bleeds flowers.

Today, most overwhelmingly, with

The Orchid :

one which can be
so easily
overwhelmed;

needing everything in her life to be
just so :

romantic in her lighting
– diffused or moonlit

exotic in hydration
– luke-warm and delicate .

In the air she thrives,
( as she’ll swell
with stems in soil. )

Like a serpent,
she resorts up trees,
roots coiled.

She’s unafraid to wilt
and adapt to new homes,

with patience
she blooms :

her secret alone .


I have been so fascinated with orchids and their temperamental nature recently. There are a lot of differing opinions on how to properly care for these finicky blooms, especially on the topic of watering. I always heard that you should use ice cubes, but others say the trick is to temporarily submerge the roots in luke-warm water. Now that I see orchids more in their natural tropical environment, the latter makes more sense with the warm rainforest the flowers thrive in. But, I have also heard that every orchid is different and requiring special care.


Petal on a string

Like a petal on a string,
a feather on the air,
I glided to
you —

to your poetry
of stars :

written
in the night

dancing
in your eyes;

they fell
into the shadows
in the corners
of mine.

Though the day
will turn dreams
away
like Orpheus,

won’t you stay here for now
and hold me in the darkness?

Writing and Photography by: Katy Claire Funke