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A Lesson from Pineapples

Live Like You Can

By Janis McDonald

Living in Hawaii over half of my life, I figured I knew everything I needed or wanted to know about pineapples. I knew pineapples were my favorite fruit, freshly picked; a sharp knife was required for trimming; chewing on the core was fun; and the bigger, the better.

Lanai is called the “Pineapple Isle.” It was the last of the islands for my ex-husband and me to explore. Deciding it was time, we flew over and rented an old rusty jeep, loaded it up with our backpacks and off we went, expecting to dine later at the town’s only restaurant.

While Lanai isn’t mountainous, we did drive to the highest point to take a look. While heading back down, we discovered rusty brakes, forcing us to stop by crashing into the mountainside. We decided to walk back to town.

During the ‘80s, Lanai had no paved roads or lights and was entirely planted with fields of pineapples with a tiny town located on the other side of the island.

It was getting dark, so we decided to take the most direct dirt road towards, the first light we could see. We headed off across the pineapple fields, thinking it wasn’t “that far” to rescue!

While pineapple fields do have lots of roads, we discovered most of the time they would take us quite a distance to a U-turn and return us back to exactly where we started.

At pitch dark, we decided to camp and wait for the “morning after” to find our way out. We were sitting in the middle of miles of pineapple plants without any provisions, even though our restaurant awaited us.

Getting hungry and taking a closer look at the huge plants, we found only tiny baby pineapples. Assuming they were very young and too green to pick, we decided to go hungry.

As the evening ever so slowly passed, our growling stomachs caused us to decide to take a second look at the only food around. What a surprise awaited us, especially for me who thought I knew everything I needed or wanted to know about pineapple.

As I dined on little pineapples, I discovered the sweetest, juiciest, absolutely  best fruit I ever tasted. Returning to Lanai City, we learned two-year plants were normally plowed up, destroying any chance of a third year “ratoon” fruit. The tiny pineapples were simply too small and too expensive to harvest.

During my life, I have taken many roads that went nowhere or took me back where I started. I made goals and decisions that were squelched, ending up with disappointment and dashed plans. When I was younger, I thought I had it all figured out, only to find I knew nothing. My wish to plow up those adventures and erase them from my memory was my greatest desire.

Now in my third trimester of life, I realize I have been watering, fertilizing, and growing those experiences, waiting for my third ratoon stage to find the strength and wisdom hiding there.

As I take a second look at those tiny little pineapple gifts, I feel gratitude for my “less than great” past experiences, realizing they became the fertile ground for my third trimester. I am finding these years of my life are the sweetest, juiciest part (so far)!

Janis McDonald, Functional Aging Trainer, Wellness Coach, Private Gym,


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