Moonlight over the Mokuluas

Some nights, I just need a break. An opportunity to walk out the door, leave my children and husband at home, and clear my head of all the noise. As a mom whose life is consumed by homeschooling and cooking and childcare and chores, while still trying to work from home on a burgeoning photo/design business and a national social media campaign for a non-profit, and attempting to coordinate a trans-Pacific move, my head is perpetually filled with to-do lists. I get to the point where people talk to me, and I cannot understand what they are saying--I have to stop the whirling in my brain and have them repeat themselves in order to get my brain to shift gears from all of the stuff going on inside. 

I had reached this point on Wednesday night, so my dear husband came home early and sent me out the door with strict instructions to relax. "Go get a pedicure," he said. Although it would have been lovely, I had something else in mind for my evening of relaxation. I really wanted an hour or two to just shoot for me, and I knew that I'd seen a full moon out the night before. I pulled up a photo planner app (Photo Pills, if anyone is interested) and checked to see when and where the moon would rise, and wouldn't you know it--the moon was scheduled to rise at 8:50 pm over the very spot I'd been DYING to photograph the moonrise. It was fate, I tell 'ya.

I quickly packed up my tripod and gear and drove across the island, hitting Whole Foods for some picnic provisions along the way.  I arrived on Lanikai beach in full dark, which made hiking across the sand to my shooting location interesting, then set up my gear and waited. I enjoyed the quiet of the night, relishing the sound of the waves hitting the shore as I sipped my beer and ate my dinner. Soon, I saw the sky beginning to lighten in the direction of the Mokuluas, two tiny islets just off the windward coast of Oahu. The show was about to begin. 

And what a gorgeous show it was. The moon began peeking over the horizon, fiery red, a tiny sliver staining the sky and clouds around it orange. Slowly it ascended, just between the two islets, and sent a trail of gold across the surface of the water. As it rose, the moon passed between and behind clouds, sometimes blocked completely, and at other times it would suddenly break free of it's cloudy prison and defiantly blaze it's light upon the shore. It was a beautiful show that I happily watched for two hours, taking many shots from different angles, playing with multiple compositions and exposures. Finally, the damp chilly air drove me from the beach and back to the van for the long drive home. It was a lovely evening, exactly what this busy mama needed to feel refreshed and ready to tackle another day of chaos. 


First light.

First light.

Breaking through.

Breaking through.

My favorite of the bunch.

My favorite of the bunch.

A walk along the shore

For all of its flaws and hassles, there is one aspect of living in Hawaii that I cannot deny is fabulous: being in such close proximity to so many lovely beaches. There are perfectly manicured resort beaches; wide-open beaches with an endless, wide swath of sand; wild beaches with rocky shorelines and coral bottoms, perfect for exploring with a snorkel; tiny alcoves of sand tucked back into the cliffs, where the water gently laps the shore; and steep shorelines with massive waves crashing against the sand. I recently decided to swing by a beach just a few minutes from our home. Nimitz Beach will never make the tourist guide: it is a bit rocky, there are abandoned WWII pillboxes littering the shore, and the surf break is lousy, but it is quiet and still and lovely. Generally, I have this beach to myself, occasionally running into a lone fisherman or a photographer with a family clad in matching outfits. On this day, I wasn't wanting to swim--I just wanted to walk the shore, enjoying the sound of the surf crashing against the beach, and take in the sights and textures.


Solitude: it's a theme I frequently explore in my photography.  Perhaps it is my own desire for solitude that drives it: as a homeschooling parent of two busy children, I frequently retreat to the bathroom just to have a moment of quiet time, hoping that the short ones will leave me alone for just a moment of quiet. Unfortunately, it rarely works and now my children just think I have bowel issues. As solitude is like a mythical unicorn in my own day-to-day life, I find myself drawn to this theme more and more in my work. Recently I spent an afternoon on a beach on the North Shore, and when I noticed this lone woman on the rock, surrounded by a sea of clouds and water, I dove for my camera bag and quickly fired off a few shots before she jumped back in the water.


I see this photo, and I so want to be the woman on that rock at times, sitting quietly and enjoying the beauty of the world around her. I try to imagine what would happen if I should swim out there myself.  I know that without a doubt, in a few moments I would have a life-jacket-clad six-year-old at my feet, requesting that I help her climb up, where she would plop her cold, wet behind on my lap and proceed to jabber away about her imaginary worlds of pet crocodiles and flying unicorns. Then a rambunctious 10-year-old would swim over, splashing us, poking his finger into crags of the rock to pester the sea urchins. Brad would climb up to join the fun, looking over the heads of our children to catch my eye in a Never a quiet moment, is there? glance. He would slip his hand in mine and we would sigh a sigh that is equal parts wistfulness for the quiet days of yore and gratitude for this noisy, messy life that we now cherish.

Hmmm...perhaps I don't want to be that woman on the rock after all.

In the shade of monkeypod trees...

Here in Hawaii, we've been dealing with record-setting rains and even flooding of downtown areas, thanks to an unusually-busy hurricane season. Beaches have closed due to sewers overflowing and running off into the ocean, and the usually-blue skies have been endlessly grey for weeks. Our family has managed to squeeze in a little beach time here and there, but mostly we've been trapped indoors or the kids have been playing in the rain in our front yard. Over the weekend, we saw a small reprieve from the wet weather, and although the skies were still a bit grey, we braved the insanely humid conditions to head over to one of our favorite restaurants on the island, Monkeypod Kitchen. The food at Monkeypod is good and of great quality (albeit a bit expensive), but our favorite part of the restaurant is the cocktail menu and the open-air, laid-back atmosphere of their patio. With live music every day and a gorgeous stone patio flanked by tropical flowers set in the shade of their namesake monkeypod trees, the restaurant is a wonderful reprieve from the day-to-day frustrations of island living. Brad and I sip a cocktail while listening to the trade winds mingle with the notes of the acoustic guitar, and the kids run and play in the grassy lawn surrounding the patio. A slice of the Hawaiian good life.