Meet Sweet Pea
I have been walking my dog, Sweet Pea, every day since I got her, barring the first 3 weeks of this New Year. Like many, I got hit by the seasonal cold that knocked me off my feet and kicked my daily regimen of walking 2.5 miles to the curb. Having now thankfully regained my health, I’ve resumed my coveted daily exercise with Sweet Pea.
One of the things I can absolutely guarantee happening on a daily basis when we take our walk is that Sweet Pea will stop foot traffic. At least one visitor will tell me how much they miss their pet at home. Some take out their phones and share photos of their dogs with me. Mostly though, I see people passing in their cars smiling and pointing at Sweet Pea. She is a dachshund-chihuahua mix and is over 10 years old. Her little legs move in double time to keep up with my stride. I was very fortunate to have found her at the Maui Humane Society a year ago when her owner turned her in after having exhausted her breeding life. I’m pleased to report she is living her golden years now.
Resuming my much loved walks, I reflect on the pandemic that kept visitors from Maui and how much I missed the energy and hum of life they brought to our island. Once Hawaii opened up for travel again, I remember one particular early evening sunset. A flock of people on the beach, all facing the horizon in a collective pause watching sunset. There was such an air of awe and gratitude. The sun sinking, painting the sky with reds, orange and purple amidst puffs of cloud. It was like the heart beat of Maui had returned. We all stood in a silent worship. Collectively, it was like the pulse of our island had resumed its beat.
And now, once again, the island is busy with winter escapees and Maui devotees!
Getting myself back out on my walks after my personal respite this year was a reminder of my gratitude for our visitors. I love the daily interactions I have when I go out with Sweet Pea walking her along South Kihei Road. Sweet Pea walks up to people, blocking their path, until they stop and pet her. Those eyes, who could resist? Most of the folks are visiting and they tell me they miss their dogs. I always say it’s difficult to leave Maui but easier going home if you have a beloved pet to go home to.
The majority of people I meet gladly take a moment and stroke Sweet Pea. She is like a therapy dog in that way. Tourists are happy to get their dose of dog-love from Sweet Pea and I am always left smiling.
Thank you for coming to our island. As a result, there is a constant flow of positive energy. It makes me happy to see families coming out of ice cream parlors where calories don’t count but family time does. To watch couples carrying their beach chairs, towels and beach bags draped over their shoulders bound for the beach. Coconut potions and lotion scents fill the air. Stopping to take a photo of a gecko or flower. Slowing down to appreciate the simple things. To sit at an open-air coffee shop or shave ice store in a timeless window that vacations allow for. It takes me back to being on vacation.
If you live in a visitor destination like Maui, ones sense of gratitude is elevated by the energy of these positive vibes. Living in Maui is like being on vacation a lot of the time because we share the same space as our visitors and we get to see through their eyes a renewed appreciation and wonder at all we have on a daily basis.
I remember as a visitor myself, my first time in Maui being 1992, being in those same shoes (or flip flops), and day dreaming about living here. I recall the sense of wonder and awe that reminds how Maui captivated me. That appreciation doesn’t wane when the reminder is there through the eyes of our visitors. I recognize that in the tourists I encounter here every day. I recount that magic daily when I take Sweet Pea out and a visitor squats down to pet her and share with me about their dogs waiting back at home…