The Spirit of Aloha – The Lei Tree of Maui

DSCN1560 The Lei Tree crop copy

Last April, my husband surprised me with an anniversary trip to Hawaii. The second leg of our trip we spent eight glorious days on the island of Maui. Honua Kai Resort, on Kaanapali Beach’s north coast, served as our home base.

Each day, we’d venture out and explore a different part of the island. One of my favorite drives was to the breezy south coast. I adored the winding curves, the scenic overlooks, the wild surf, effervescent beaches, and aquamarine sea. Every so often, hubby and I would stumble upon a beach where driftwood washed ashore. Majestic trees, barren and seasoned by the radiant island sun, told their stories.

One such tree, I fondly named the “Lei Tree” , spotted near Ukehame Beach Park. Reposed on the western shoreline, her resilient, sinewy neck lay adorned with colorful leis – each represented a victory she’d won, a battle she’d conquered. She was a true, Hawaiian warrior princess.

DSCN1561 lei tree copyr

I often reminisce about that statuesque lady. Her memory makes me smile.

She represents the true ‘Spirit of Aloha’ – arms open, ready to love…ready to give.

According to the Hawaiian people, Aloha also means love, compassion, kindness and grace. Its literal Hawaiian definition is “The presence of (Divine) breath.”  Taken from Alo = presence, front, or face and Hâ = breath. …

In Hawaiian culture, the spirit of aloha goes well beyond a simple greeting.

It is a way of life.

At this time of year (and maybe even every day), let’s try and spread the Spirit of Aloha to those around us. Every one we meet on the street, in stores, our friends, our family…

Maybe our lives would be that much fuller, if we accepted people for who they are…..

Aloha, and Merry Christmas !

Peace, Love and Sand dollars,



Sheree is the author of three books – Ocean Rhythms Kindred Spirits, Midnight the One-Eyed Cat, and Da Vinci Eye Award Winner, Folly Beach Dances.

Her work can be found here:



Memories of Winters Past

I awoke this morning to the grandeur of a new fallen snow.  Living on three acres there’s plenty of wildlife to visually stimulate me on this fine morning.

The mockingbirds, tufted titmouses, cardinals and blue jays scamper about, foraging for the thistle I sprinkled on the frozen deck rails this morning.

Memories of past winters live in my mind…

The winter of 1999 found my husband and in our newly constructed home.  It would also be the last winter for our dog, Mitch.  Plagued with back problems, our Belgian Sheepdog enjoyed a pain-free day with his husky-mix sister, trekking along the two paths that connect the clearing to the back fields shaped like Micky Mouse ears.  Trees laden with crimson berries, slightly frozen, dripping ice sculptures created a fairy tale forest.

Or the winter we had so much snow, hubby would no sooner clear off a portion of the driveway with the box blade on the mower, to spin around and find it snow-covered  – again.

One of the happiest memories of winter included our two pooches – Maggie, an overachieving Chessie and Miss Sasha (a mouthy little husky- shepherd mix that could have passed for a Sheltie.)

Hubby trudged inside, boots covered with snow, nose as red as Rudolph’s and asked “Where’s the red food coloring?”

“In the cabinet by the sink, honey.  What do you need that for?”

“You’ll see.”

Preoccupied with stacking the holiday dishes, I heard a knock on the dining room window.

Much to my surprise and delight, a fire hydrant ice sculpture stood in the snow.  Red like a big snow cone, it made the corners of my mouth turn up and put a gleam in my eye.

The dogs were having so much fun, eating the snow and playing, I couldn’t help but laugh.  And hubby was the big cheese, the supervisor, the hot potato, the hero of the day who made me chuckle.

DSC_0530 Russell Maggie fire hydrant copyr

If my memory serves me correctly, it was also the winter I sported a bright orange and aqua cast (in Miami Dolphin colors) on my left leg – the result of falling in a depression our friend’s dog made on their front lawn.  The tendons in the top of my foot went snap, crackle, pop, followed by a burning sensation – a warning something was wrong.  Six hours in the ER and a dose of dilaudid was just what I needed to ease the pain.

So if I couldn’t be running around with my crazy canines and hubby frolicking in the winter wonderland, the view from the window was the next best thing.

Winters have come and gone, and I cherish these as some of the most memorable.

I penned a poem last year while I was on a walk with our adopted child (our shoe-collecting mini Australian Shepherd).

 I am reposting.  Hope you enjoy the poem and the pictures.


The cold kiss of winter brushes my rosy cheeks

and snowflakes drop like confetti.

Five gaggles of graylag geese soar overhead

north to south

in the hazy cotton sky.

I stand reticent,



to their cackling,

as if I were multilingual.

They settle in the field nearby,


as an experienced aviator

sideslipping a glider in for a landing.

(Copyright Sheree Nielsen)