I can never say no. So when they said, "wanna come pick?" I said sure, before I even knew when or where. Of course it had to be 7am on a weekday, out in Kapolei (45 minutes away). That's not so bad, you say? I is when I normally wake up at 8 or 9, and everything is no more than 15 minutes away, if that.
So we met at Starbucks in Kapolei, and the 5 of us carpooled over to a grove of hala trees to "clean the tree" and gather leaves.
After only a couple of hours of hot sweaty dirty work, we cleaned up our mess and loaded up the truck to take it to the kumu's house (kumu = teacher). I thought we were done, but I got invited to the house to learn how to clean, flatten and roll the leaves. Oh boy, it's 9am and I work at 2... Sure! So we go back to Starbucks to get my car and drive to Wahiawa. It's only at the end of the freeway, only 20 minutes away. Which makes it more than an hour from home. Hm.
Kumu has a great place, with a large driveway for working on cleaning leaves. We had cut the ends off at the grove, so all's we need is to clean, de-bone (or not, your choice. Definitely yes if we were working with the thorned variety - thorns on the spine and both edges of the leaf.) and roll the leaves to sit and wait for the next step. We use a home-made bamboo tool to strip/de-bone, made by kumu's father. After a few leaves, kumu gives a tour of her yard and her hala trees, then I bow out gracefully. She hands me a bundle of leaves to take home - she tells me "practice cleaning... so look like you did something today".
And the pics:
The thorned variety... Aunty says they are stronger to weave with.
The beginner's tree. Thornless. Three of us cleaned it. Still took forever. Next time will be easier. Kumu says, go every 3 weeks, not every 3 months, it stays clean and you don't have to work so hard.
Our mess. We pick up fallen leaves, and pull the brown leaves from the tree. Eeew... dirt, bugs, gecko eggs, ants, roaches. Thankfully no centipedes today. I can't stand centipedes.
One bundle. This one has more than just string around because it has razor sharp THORNS!
Aunty's truck, loaded up. See the orange construction barrier? best thing for wrapping leaves in!
Sorry no pics from kumu's house - my phone died. Along with my built in camera and GPS. *sigh* I need a charger for the Wrangler! I finally left around 11:30 and was home in just over an hour.