When my son and I were at Akaka Falls State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii recently, we hiked on a path that led us through lush ferns, colorful flowers and tall trees. The waterfalls in the park were beautiful, especially Akaka Falls, a freefalling waterfall. It plunges from the edge of a cliff into a pool far enough below us that we couldn't see the pool.
On the way back from the waterfall, we met a young couple who stood by a beautiful tall red flower. They were taking a picture of it. The flower reminded me of a feathered candle with large red petals at the bottom.
I asked if they knew what kind of flower it was. "We don't know," the man said. "We're taking a picture of the lizard sitting on top of it."
I looked more closely. Sure enough, a lizard basked in the sun on top of the flower. I would have missed seeing it if he hadn't pointed it out. Once the couple walked on down the trail, I took my own picture of the lizard on the flower. What an amazing sight! No matter where we find ourselves, if we connect with other people we often have a richer, more interesting experience than if we keep to ourselves.
Later, I looked through two books I bought in Hawaii. One was Native Hawaiian Plants. The other was Tropical Trees of Hawaii. I couldn't find a picture in either book that looked like the red flower. The closest I came to it was an 'Awapuhi (ah-vah-poo-hee), a shampoo ginger, that looked like it might have been the flower before it opened its petals. If anyone who reads this blog knows the identity of this flower, I would love to learn its name.