Living in Hawaii for 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” and the last of the islands for my ex-husband and I 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 (3366 ft/1026 meters) to take a look. While heading back down we found the brakes were pretty rusty as well, forcing us to stop by crashing into the side of the mountain. 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.
Getting dark, 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 take 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. Even though our restaurant awaited us, we were sitting in the middle of miles of pineapple plants without any provisions.
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 decided 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 pineapples.
As I dined on little pineapples, I discovered the sweetest, juiciest, absolutely the best fruit I ever tasted. These “green” pineapples were actually 3rd stage fruit called, “the ratoon growth.”
Returning to Lanai City, we learned the 2-year plants were normally plowed up, destroying any chance of a 3rd stage fruit. The tiny pineapples were simply too small and too expensive to harvest.
Finding our way home to Oahu and back to “normal” pineapples, I will always remember the 3rd stage ratoon pineapple as the best.
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 squashed, 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 was to just plow up those experiences and erase them from my memory.
Now, in my 3rd trimester of life, I realize I have been watering, fertilizing and growing those experiences, waiting for my 3rd ratoon stage of life to find the strength and wisdom hiding there. I am finding this stage of my life is the sweetest, juiciest part (so far)!
As I remember those tiny little gifts in the pineapple field, I feel grateful I allowed the past “less that great” experiences to fruit and harvest now in my 3rd trimester.