Friday, December 7, 2007
The most frequently asked question about the cover of my forthcoming book, HEALING WATER is, "What’s that thing around his neck?"
“That thing” is a lei. Nearly everyone is familiar with the Hawaiian lei made of flowers. But a lei can also be made of shells, seeds, leaves, and nuts. Of course you can also order a lei made of ones, tens, hundreds or five hundreds. (If you mortgaged your home!)
The lei on the cover of HEALING WATER is made of kukui nuts cut in half. National Geographic photographer, Richard A. Cooke III made it for his young friend and then took this photo. The photo was included in this online magazine.
Richard lives on the island of Moloka`i which is fitting, I think, since HEALING WATER takes place in Molokai’s leprosy settlement.
Also fitting is that the kukui bloom is Moloka`i’s official flower and Moloka`i's symbolic color is the silvery green of kukui leaf.
Kukui nuts are filled with an oily kernel which Hawaiians used as fuel for torches and lamps. In addition to providing light, the kukui has many medicinal uses.
For more info about the kukui nut lei click here.