Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Falling; scattered, as rain, tears, grain; crumbling, as the earth; dilapidated; to shed, as a dog's hair.

As I was walking yesterday morning on our country road, I could see the bright red stamens of the lehua blossoms scattered on the road.  I wish everyone could bask in that beauty.  On O'ahu it's hard enough to find a single tree, let alone a forest vibrant with the lehua 'ula'ula (red lehua) and lehua mamo (yellow lehua).  The word used to describe the falling of these stamens is helele'i.  Hawaiian language learners usually use the generic word hā'ule when describing something that is falling.  But there are many words to describe how something falls.  Helele'i is one of them.  When flowers fall from a tree, that is helele'i.  When rain falls from the heavens, that is helele'i.  When tears fall from the eyes, that is helele'i.  And just knowing that gives helele'i a whole different feeling to it when using it.  We are so used to generic words as language learners and as speakers that we forget the intricacies of ALL languages.

"Helele'i pua i ke kai"... - Flowers falling into the ocean (from Ka Wai Lehua by Frank Hewett)

Ua helele'i iho kona waimaka i ka papalina - her tears fell to her cheeks.

Ke helele'i nei ka hulu o ka 'īlio - The dog's fur is shedding.

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