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Holidays In Hawaii
by [?]

Wide as is the world, the traveler is pretty sure to strike threads of relation with his home country wherever he goes. I made the acquaintance in Honolulu of a man from my own county; another, who showed us great kindness, was from an adjoining county; while one day upon the street I was called by name by a man whom I had known as a boy in the town where I now live.

One Saturday a walking-club, largely made up of men and women teachers, whose native Hawaiian name meant “Walkers in Unfrequented Places,” asked us to join them in a walk up Palola Valley to the site of an extinct crater well up in the mountains. These walkers in unfrequented places proved to be real walkers, and gave us all and more than we had bargained for–more mud and wet and slippery trails through clinging vines and rank lantana scrub than was good for our shoes and garments or for the bodies inside them. It was a long pull of many miles, at first up the valley over a fair highway, then into the woods on the mountain-side along a trail that was muddy and slippery from the recent showers, and most of the time was buried out of sight beneath the high, coarse stag-horn fern and a thick growth of lantana that met above it as high as our shoulders. A more discouraging mountain climb I never undertook. The vegetation was all novel, but it had that barbaric rankness of all tropical woods, with nothing of the sylvan sweetness and simplicity of our home woods. There were no fine, towering trees, but low, gnarled, and tortuous ones, which, with their hanging vines, like the broken ropes of a ship’s rigging, and their parasitic growths, presented a riotous, disheveled appearance.

Nature in the tropics, left to herself, is harsh, aggressive, savage; looks as though she wanted to hang you with her dangling ropes, or impale you on her thorns, or engulf you in her ranks of gigantic ferns. Her mood is never as placid and sane as in the North. There is a tree in the Hawaiian woods that suggests a tree gone mad. It is called the hau-tree. It lies down, squirms, and wriggles all over the ground like a wounded snake; it gets up, and then takes to earth again. Now it wants to be a vine, now it wants to be a tree. It throws somersaults, it makes itself into loops and rings, it rolls, it reaches, it doubles upon itself. Altogether it is the craziest vegetable growth I ever saw. Where you can get it up off the ground and let it perform its antics on a broad skeleton framework, it makes a cover that no sunbeam can penetrate, and forms a living roof to the most charming verandas–or lanais, as they are called in the islands–that one can wish to see.

But I saw and heard one thing on this walk that struck a different note: it was one of the native birds, the Oahu thrush. The moment I heard it I was reminded of our brown thrasher, though the song, or whistle, was much finer and richer in tone than that of our bird. The glimpse I got of the bird showed it to be of about the size and shape of our thrasher, but much brighter in color. It seems as though the two species must have had a common origin some time, somewhere. I was attracted by no other native bird on this walk. In the valley below we had seen and heard the Chinese workmen going about their rice-fields making strange sounds to drive away the rice-birds, a small, brown species that has been introduced from India.

When we reached the mountain-top, we found it enveloped in fog and mist, and the scene was cold and cheerless. We looked down through a screen of foliage into a deep valley that seemed almost beneath us, and which is supposed to have been an ancient crater. There, on the brink, the walkers had a rude cabin, where we ate our lunch beside a fire and tried to dry our bedraggled garments.