Archive | August, 2012

Aloha Summer

24 Aug

This is one of my favorite weekends of the year.

After graduating college during Texas’ last major economic crisis in the mid-1980s, I did my best Magnum P.I. impersonation and escaped to Hawaii to work in the hospitality industry. After four years of surfing, scuba diving, and living the laid back life, I moved home to Texas with an island girl that was in for a bit of a culture shock.

My soon-to-be wife quickly realized that Texas and Hawaii are a little different so we started looking for a way to bring some of the culture of the islands to the Lone Star State. In 2002, we moved to the Hill Country and started the annual “Aloha Summer” Luau in our backyard. We hoped to make new friends in our new home by sharing the special spirit of aloha.

My favorite part of the luau is cooking the kalua pig in my prized imu, which is just beyond the edge of the yard. The whole hog is wrapped in banana leaves, stuffed with hot lava rocks, and smoked and steamed underground for sixteen hours. Richele rounds out the rest of the menu with island recipes and specialty items shipped from Hawaii by family members. There has always been a costume contest, games for kids, and tropical concoctions (some more potent than others). I am always happy to eat the leftover poi.

Three years ago, we had a couple of hundred people in the backyard when it started pouring down rain. After cleaning up hundreds of footprints from drenched partygoers seeking shelter in the house, Richele subtly suggested that we find another venue.

The following year we turned the luau into a composite community fundraiser. The idea was simple. Put on a traditional Hawaiian luau and invite non-profit community organizations that are doing good work for local families to participate and tell their stories. This way, they have a large crowd and a fun environment to build support, raise awareness for their cause and make new friends.

In 2010, we were able to donate $5,000 to participating organizations and increased that amount last year to over $9,000. Every organization receives a donation and in return, they are asked to provide an activity for kids and to invite all of their supporters to show up for the event. This year’s luau is poised to be bigger and better than ever.

When I moved to Hawaii at the young age of 21, I didn’t know a soul, but the “aloha spirit” of the people made me feel welcomed and at home. The “Aloha Summer” Luau aims to recreate the same openness, warmth, friendliness and sense of belonging that was shown to me years ago while we shine a light on the great organizations that work hard all year to bring that same spirit of aloha to our wonderful little community of Boerne.

A Fish Story

18 Aug


A fox walking on the beach had drawn him out of the cabin into the gray, pre-dawn light. The fire had gone out during the night, but the cabin was warm compared with the chill of the morning. He grabbed at his coat and hugged himself to suppress a shiver in what he thought was silence.

Slowly he became aware of the faint sound of water falling off the mountain a mile across the bay. As his ears were straining to hear the cascade, a whale breached with a whoosh and a spray of water. Then the resident seal splashed at the end of the spit, a gull cried, and a salmon jumped, as salmon do, for reasons known only to salmon. This was not silence; it was a natural symphony played just for him.

The boy and the old man were still asleep in the cabin. The adrenaline from yesterday’s encounter with the bear had worn off leaving the man with a slightly hung-over feeling. He was not hooked on danger as some people said. He was simply a collector of life experiences and the more exciting the better.

The bear had popped out of the brush thirty feet from where they were fishing and challenged their right to extract fish from the stream. The ensuing war of wills, strong words, and a few thrown rocks had convinced the bear to find another fishing spot. The man was triumphant and the boy was exhilarated, but the old man did not like that kind of excitement.

Today was a new day. The stunning natural beauty of the place was worth the pain and suffering and potential bear attacks. Today he would teach the boy how to fill a freezer, how to cast and how to set a hook, how to keep a tight line, how to talk among men, how to casually handle discomfort, and how to make it all look easy. It was also a day for him to show the old man that real life is not lived in the living room. No one ever complains of cold, or rain, or sea sickness, or sore muscles, or wet socks when they are reeling in a monster. The rush of emotion when a big fish strikes is indescribable.

The man snapped to when he realized that the sun was coming up over the water. He said a soft goodbye to the seal and set off to continue the boy’s unfinished education in adventurous living. He wanted to make sure that his son was conscious of his choices. You rarely encounter bears or land a fish that weighs more than you do while sitting in an easy chair. Neither of them was ever going to get old.

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