Puunene Reunion 2007 Documentary

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Celebrating Maui's Unique Smells!

You're listening to Maui slack-key artist Jeff Peterson playing "Maui On My Mind" in Ta Prohm, Cambodia. Thought you'd enjoy a little mood music while you read this post ...

Notice there are no photos for this post. On purpose. ... Enjoy!

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 The sense of smell is elusive, visceral.
Maui's smells are unique, visceral.
I invite you to sit back, relax, and wend your way through the Maui smells described below.

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It's fitting that I begin this Maui smells celebration with some thoughts by Jeff himself. (thanks, Jeff!)
"The smell of eucalyptus takes me right back to my childhood in Olinda. There is a small cabin on the Haleakala ranch called the Peanut House that is surrounded by a wonderful eucalyptus forest. I can remember the smell of the trees mixed with kiawe wood on the fire and the wonderful music that filled the air when my father and his friends would play together."
Jeff is one my favorite music artists!
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My Facebook friends and family weighed in with their thoughts about the smells of Maui. (Is aromas a better word?). I present their reactions, raw:

Courtney: Rain. :)
Sarah: Ulupalakua in general, Eucalyptus on Olinda Road, salty sea air of Kihei, stinky mud of mudflats, damp scent of Iao Valley, the road to Hana with whiffs of guava, ginger, waterfalls.
Marsha: There is a particular smell to the tall grass in Haiku.
Maxine: (when visiting) I make my husband drive me by the sugar cane factory to smell that smell....not sure if it's a nice one, but it does make me happy! ;)
Brad: Definitely Komoda's and stinky Puunene. All the flower and produce farms in Kula have their own smell, especially the cabbage farms. A really windy day on the north shore you can smell and taste salt in the air. And the stink of burning cane.
Molli: The smell of a plumeria lei when it is circling over your head.
Susan: The Eucalyptus trees on the biking descent to Grandma's, and cinnamon rolls baking at Foodland during early morning swims.
Jeannie: Mock orange blooming in the back yard...plumeria in the front. Dusty musty smell of rain when it FINALLY gets to Sansei Kihei.
Michelle: The Eucalyptus trees for me too . The damp smell of forest and wet horse on the ride to the Melrose cabin . The smell and taste of the wild ginger growing all around up country. :) ♥
Elizabeth: Plumeria and pineapple - in college I found a pineapple scented body spray and used it every time I missed Maui. I probably smelled like a fruit salad or piƱa colada.
Rachael: The smell of cow pies in Kula fields, the smell of salty sea on a cliff in Kaupo, the smell of Nene geese in the winter, the smell of the neighbor's imu pit when it is full of pig...
Laura Beth: Plumeria, definitely!
Laura: Memorable smells that still stick with me over here in the NW: plumeria trees in bloom, sugar cane factory - how can I ever forget that one? Red clay when it's all over your feet, your dog and your clothes (pure earth smell), fresh rain on a warm day, burning cane fields, and the one that I tell all mainlanders they have to experience: the Eucalyptus trees upcountry -- open all the windows of the car and enjoy!
Hila: essence of OGG - jet fuel blended with tuberose, melting your home-sickness away....
Mele: The smell of the ocean breeze blowing into the kitchen at my mom's home mixed with the smells of her home cooking.
Jason: The smell of pineapple at Maui Land and Pineapple cannery.
Sarah: Kahului Harbor, driving down Hanamu Road early in the morning when the cows are out, huli-huli chicken cooking for a fundraiser, the combo of dust, animals, pronto pups and flying saucers at the Maui County Fair.
Princess: Mock Orange.
Ned: When around, night blooming jasmine is a sure winner.
Brian: The smell of the sugar cane fields burning.
Jamia: The heavenly smell of plumeria trees in bloom.
Audrey: the smell of love in the air ♥.
Nancy: Gardenias dripping with fresh rain sitting in front of a fan to disperse the amazing fragrance!!! Peace 2 U !!
Ben: The sweet smell of the sugar mill. The flowers. Night blooming jasmine, gardenia, plumeria, pikake, tuberose and don't forget maile leaves... The food court at the county fair...malasadas, teriyaki, huli huli chicken and kiawe...

What a nose-tickling array of impressions!

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I asked a long-time good friend for a few thoughts about his first day back on Maui last year, after twelve years away. His response is a sensory delight for the ages (Mahalo, Lance!).

I invite you to find your favorite get-away spot, perhaps with an aromatic cup of coffee and a delicious sweet, and ENJOY.
"Landing in Kahului after an absence of 12 years, I received a lei from my sister-in-law as I stepped into the terminal. The sweet fragrance of tuberose hit me, suddenly bringing me back to a life I once knew. In the car on the way home, she broke out containers of tako poke and the smell of green onion and tako filled my nose. Yum. Ocean saltiness on the spray at Ho'okipa reminded me that this island, once my home, sails the sea like a ship. At Jaws, a detour to see the waves brought us into a group of local families sitting on the backs of their pick-ups. The smell of pakalolo smoke drifted around us and I knew Maui hadn't changed that much.
On the way up Baldwin Avenue, we saw fallow fields instead of the acres of pineapples that once stretched to the horizon. What? No more coasting down the mountain behind a load of pineapples? That strong, sweet odor of ripe pineapples once reminded me of nothing so much as the fresh cotton candy that I loved as a kid. No moa'. No more smell of cane fertilizer in the ditches either. Well, no great loss there. But the strong molasses smell of the burning cane and the acrid odor of burning bagasse in the cane processing factories were a thing of the past, I guess... at least in this part of the island.
A quick stop at Komoda's in Makawao gave me the chance to inhale that familiar smell of mouth watering bakery goodness...sweet, warm donuts tempted me. So I ate several. A stroll by Polli's brought more memories... stale beer and fresh hot tortillas and salsa rolled out onto the sidewalk, inviting me inside. Time for that later.
Up Olinda Road I walked until I entered the dark, shady tunnel of towering eucalyptus. That smell will forever define my life up there: not quite piney, not exactly medicinal, but strongly herbal, resin-ey, with a hint of cat urine... but GOOD! Did I just write that?
I don't need to talk about the multitude of floral smells because what could be more of a cliche than flowers in the tropics, but just one flower needs mention to finish my aural ramblings: the gardenia bush that produced dozens of pure, glorious, delicious-smelling blossoms in its season. I used to put the half-opened buds in my car, next to my bed, in a home-made corsage for my wife to wear. Just walking by the gardenias made my first day back in Maui so sweet."
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Here's my contribution to the celebration:
Komoda doughnuts frying, at 6:30 am ... mouth-watering

Ho'okipa spray ... salty fresh, invigorating

Punawai near Hansen's ... faintly sour some days, more pungent on others

The morning air in Makawao when it snows on Haleakala ... clean, crisp

Fallen guavas covered with morning dew ... sweet, reminding me of guava fights way back when

Pig pen in H'Poko, down below the old sugar mill (hanabata days) ... strong, earthy

Flower lei at high school graduations ... heady
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What about you? What Maui smells come to your mind? Please add your impressions in the comments below!

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@Celebrate_Maui
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Jeff Peterson playing "Maui on My Mind", in Ta Prohm, Cambodia