confessions of a pineapple thief

I nicked a pineapple on Maui. This satisfied a life-long yearning and I do believe it was the most delicious pineapple I have ever eaten, possibly because it was pilfered.

Jaws is the name given by surfers to the beach Hawaiians call Peahi, their word for "beckon." It is the beach with the killer surf that exceeds sixty foot waves due to unique underwater topography, chiefly a massive underwater ridge of unusual steepness. Average swells pass over the edge of the reef without incident, but larger storm swells strike the reef and abruptly build upward in a process termed shoaling.

But there's more. the swells on both side of the reef bend inward funneling the energy on the center of the wave crest forming a veritable pyramid of stacked water. The deep water channel next to the subsurface ridge ensures a safety zone where the wave doesn't break.

The waves hitting the reef at Peahi travel from deep water to shallow water in less than a minute. The rapid change in depth cuts the regular speed of the wave in half, like slamming brakes, it compresses the wave and causes the rear of it up to an impressive maximum height. The most impressive on Earth, actually. Surfers fly in from around the world to take advantage of the surf in season.

Our trip coincided with the Tsunami in the Indian Ocean, and record waves at Jaws.

I have wanted to traipse through a pineapple field ever since I first saw them at the beginning of fourth grade. Our plane held over in Honolulu for a few hours on our way to Tokyo when I was nine years old. I could see the fields from the car window, and yearned intensely to explore them. But we didn't have time, and I was with my family, and I didn't have any control, and my father was unsympathetic to my childish desire. I do recall thinking of all the people on the beach, "Everybody is so old!" I concluded Hawaii was for old people.

I came close to another chance at twenty-two when I traveled again to Honolulu with a small group of friends. Again, I could see the pineapple fields we drove by. My friends didn't share my desire to explore the fields. They thought the idea bizarre. Once again, I was with friends, I didn't have control, and the people I was with were unsympathetic to my childish desire. But I do recall thinking of the people on the beach, "Gosh, everybody is so gorgeous!"

I was provided a third opportunity when my brother and I traveled to Maui together. Once again I could see the pineapple fields from the car window. But this time I was with a person entirely sympathetic to my childish desire to explore the pineapple fields. And the cane fields. And the diving reefs, and the helicopter rides, and the beaches, and the restaurants, and the jeep trips, and the whale excursions and the dolphin viewing, and pretty much anything we could think of.

To observe the surf of Jaws from the overlooking cliff requires a short hike of about a mile skirting the edge of a pineapple field. I couldn't believe how carelessly the trucks bashed through the edge of the field squashing the valuable yield of carefully cultivated bromeliads. At least they seemed that way to me.

The cane at the end of the pineapple field and edging the steep cliff was taller than we were so it had to be stomped down and then stood upon as an uncertain smashed-reed platform, then one had to strain to see the surfers as tiny dots within the maws of gigantic waves far below. Filming crews had already assembled and taken up the best spots. But for me, even greater than observing the surfers brave the record-breaking waves at Jaws, the helicopters swooping the area, the general excitement of the surfing season, was the satisfaction of the hike and exploring the pineapple field.

Pineapple fields are bastards. The plants are tightly packed and their serrated leaves are like vicious protective swords. There are undoubtedly insects in there as big as your hand. It's no place to be in short pants. Frankly, you wouldn't want to be in one for more than a few minutes. So that was that. A childhood fantasy fulfilled. I nicked a pineapple on the way out. One of thousands that wasn't crushed by the cars lining the path at the edge of the field. I was simultaneously filled with guilt and glee. If I owned that land, I'd be seriously pissed. But I recall thinking of all the people on the beach that trip, "Everybody is so young!"

For the record, the pineapple pictured above is less than half the cost in Denver than on Maui, unless you steal one, of course. And it occurs to me pineapple leaves are not really serrated but it sure seems like they are when they're cutting your legs.

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