There is a Hawaiian legend built around Naupaka, a shrub with beautiful and unique blooms that appear as half-flowers, with petals amputated. The Hawaiians believe it is the incarnation of an ancient wahine separated from her lover. However, I submit to you that this plant’s legend actually originates from the Jungle Flower room of Denver, Colorado. The Naupaka Flower is more likely the story of Lina, the Rockabilly Plant Princess, and Chris, the Sacrificial Lover, who annually loses body parts to sustain a tropical paradise.
It took a while for the Rockabilly Plant Princess and the Sacrificial Lover to find their true identities. Even though Lina was deeply rooted in punk rock, swing dance, and rockabilly culture in Vegas, she didn’t yet identify with tiki culture. Even though she regularly attended weekenders dressed up in vintage Hawaiian couture with pool parties, she couldn’t yet identify with tiki culture. Even though one of Chris’ favorite restaurants was a Chinese tiki palace in frigid Edmonton, Canada (where he grew up), he didn’t yet identify with tiki culture. Even though their wedding was held at the Imperial Palace with a luau reception complete with fire dancers, they still did not identify with tiki culture. Even when they attended tiki conventions and were invited to be a part of social gatherings, they were still a touch reluctant. But, the desire for true self was growing all those years. The exotic seeds finally germinated when Chris decided to turn their covered patio into a three season room. Lina suddenly announced that the room would become a tropical jungle oasis called the Jungle Flower, and the rest is legend.
Lina admits: she never intended to be a crazy plant lady. Only a few years back, she had maybe four plants. But when a neighbor moved and asked her to take care of her plants, Lina was in full-on adoption mode. Next came additional plant purchases, occasional estate sales, and the random banana tree here and there. Now, the interior and exterior include an array of around 250 zone-pushing tropical plants. How does one water that many plants? Lina shrugged off my question. She calmly replied that she gets up, drinks her morning coffee, and waters the plants.
How did Chris acquire his reputation for bodily sacrifice? Chris has a tendency to amputate body parts for the sake of their oasis. He recently lost the tip of a finger while refinishing the floors. He has scars that resulted from the wall installation. He has literally put body and soul into their paradise, as the tip of his finger is still imbedded somewhere in the floor. Chris admits that what he likes most is designing things; it’s the construction process that gets him into sacrificial situations.
The Jungle Flower is now a paradise. Along with their collection of beautiful carvings and antiques from years of collecting, Lina and Chris have crafted rope to make water float lamps. Lina has rescued and rehabilitated tikis. She has inspired neighbors to create caves and waterfall features. Chris has installed exotic landscape lighting, and Lina creates plant sculptures to resemble aquatic life.
I submit that the origin legend of the Naupaka flower with the missing petals is thus quite clear. The Naupuaka represents Lina’s love for jungle flowers cut by Chris’ lost fingertips.
Passion usually requires a little bodily sacrifice, am I right?