Since returning from Kauai, I seem entwined with waterfalls, ribboned with the link of water falling to the sea, and all that that means.

The language of Hawaii reflects the landscape.  The wind and sea sound through it.

I’m reading Braiding Sweetgrass.  Robin Wall Kimmerer writes of the language of her people, Potawatomi, an Anishinaabe language.  One of their words is Puhpowee, which means “the force which causes mushrooms to push up from the earth overnight”.  

She writes: “As a biologist I was stunned that such a word existed. In all its technical vocabulary, Western science has no such term, no words to hold this mystery. You’d think that biologists, of all people, would have words for life. But in scientific language our terminology is used to define the boundaries of our knowing. What lies beyond our grasp remains unnamed.”

She continues: “In the three syllables of this new word I could see an entire process of close observation in the morning woods, the formulation of a theory for which English has no equivalent. The makers of this word understood a world of being, full of unseen energies that animate everything. I’ve cherished it for many years, as a talisman, and longed for the people who gave a name to the life force of mushrooms. The language that holds Puhpowee is one that I wanted to speak. So when I learned that the word for rising, for emergence, belonged to the language of my ancestors, it became a signpost for me.”

She goes on to explore how “English doesn’t give us many tools for incorporating respect for animacy.”

She writes of language and pronouns and concludes that what’s most important is living and speaking from the Heart!! Live there!  

Water Falls to the Sea
The North coast of Kauai in August, 2021

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