Hawaii doesn’t know how to stay outside. It permeates. It lovingly infiltrates. Its life finds the way inside your house and if you give it the merest opening, finds itself all the way inside of you.

The home of my friend, Lynn, is a sublime example. When she’s not flying about the globe as a flight attendant or acting in a movie, she’s at home in her “Jungle House” --a place built as an invitation to be uncertain whether you are inside or outside. At the end of two long, steep roads, the Jungle House sits up high, its decks overlooking a vast clearing surrounded by towering clusters of palms, an immense avocado tree and an array of tropical vegetation. The front Dutch-doors of the house are usually open and the wide door from the deck I have yet to see closed. Is there a door there at all? Inside, Hawaiian vine-and-flower prints dance on massive bamboo furniture, geckos chirp and scurry, and the cat brings gifts from the outdoors in. To further perpetuate the illusion, the bathtub sits on a platform above the deck.

I don’t live in an inside-out home, but thanks to housemate Karren Louise, there are usually bouquets of glorious tropical flowers from the Upcountry Farmer’s Market, the neighborhood, or our backyard. And because our windows are always open, the sounds of roosters and rain, the cooling breezes and calling birds are continually with us. Yet even with all of this, I cannot suppress my own urge to let Hawaii in. No matter what direction I walk—toward the steep Haiku Hills, into Haikutown, or through the pineapple fields, I find treasures that I carry or drag along after me like a ten-year old girl.

My room is ornamented with the left-behinds of Mother Maui—a branch with spaghetti-thin, whiplash tentacles sits atop my poster bed frame; a bouquet of dried leaves--the largest of which is a leather-looking palm leaf—“blooms” in a vase by my bed; a weathered, broken-open coconut shell with no trace of the meat it once held, rests on my window sill; an enormous, rusty-brown pod that comes up to my clavicle leans in the corner near the door; and a collection of much smaller pods that remind me of clean, little canoes are waiting to serve hors d’ouvres someday.

Above my dresser is my most recent acquisition: a bowed branch with a withered sheath out of which sprouts a bouquet of artful, nubby twigs. And there is also my collection of unopened pods, gathered from underneath the tree across the street. I have not yet found space or a use for these foot-long wooden bullets, but I'm sure I will. Pretty good for a girl who used to depend on fake ferns and high-quality phony flowers to bring the artificial outdoors in.

It seems I’m smitten with Maui’s banquet of island treasures—things I feel compelled to bring home to keep me company. Yet I know that what I’m really doing is letting something much bigger in. Each one of these gifts-for-the-taking represents the generous spirit of Aloha to me. It’s the nature of love, is it not, to find its way into your heart and make itself at home?

A Hui Hou,

P.S. I know this post begs for a photo. Tell it to my camera which has decided that everything looks better bathed in a soft pink glow. We need to spend some quality time together with the manual between us. Once we've reconciled, perhaps I'll send a photo gallery of my finds!