Lucinda Fleeson recalls her years working at Allerton Garden on Kauai. Her memoir captures the people, history, beauty, and fragility of the garden and island.
For the last twelve hundred years, the small Hawaiian Island of Kauai has been luring adventurers to its crystalline bays and rain-forested mountains. It was the first of the islands settled by voyaging Polynesians, and the first landfall of Captain James Cook. Called ‘the Separate Kingdom’ by the Hawaiians because a treacherous one-hundred-mile channel protected it from invasion by King Kamehameha’s canoeing warriors, Kauai has kept this discrete status. Commuter jets from Honolulu make the trip in twenty minutes. As my plane passed over the white-flicked channel beow, the Garden Island rose sharply from the waves, a fertile universe, primordial and undisturbed. Towering green sugarloaf mountains loomed over the rocky southern shore, indented here and there with crescents of pure white sand. Mist shrouded higher peaks in the distance. I sensed the quickening of pulse, the leap of spirit that comes with the beginning of an adventure. It would be impossible for anyone to approach a small island from the air without feeling its call of mystery, perhaps risk and danger. Or treasure. – from Waking Up in Eden, by Lucinda Fleeson