It truly has been a wet year - it is now September and we had our very first harvest for the year. That is not normal, it sucks that their is a lot of salt makers that didn't even get 1 harvest in this year. There are many factors that have effected the salt season this year and most blame the weather but you all know me - I blame it on a little more that but lets not get into that topic right now cause I am feeling the LOVE>>> LOL
Anyway, our salt ohana is made up of may different colors and ages. All are welcome - I love to tell everyone that wants to help "please do cause the more people that come the less work I have to do". Our salt ohana is made up of guys who have been there for 30 years and some who this year was there first year making salt. Everyone has a job and every job is important. From taking the kids swimming, preparing the lunch, bringing the musbi's for breakfast, washing the salt, raking the salt. Every job is valued. I have been making salt with the same people for over 30 years and I appreciate the fact that no matter how crazy my family can be some times - they are they year after year. Working hard, showing there support and love for the culture. It takes a great team of people to work hard year after year.
Our days in the salt patch start at 7 am on Sundays and it is always on a Sunday. Of course the work starts the day before - my father loads his truck - tent, tables, chairs, coolers, tools, baskets, buckets. Every thing needed for the salt patch. Back when I was younger the guys used to just park close and tie a tarp between two trucks - everyone sat on coolers and never need tables.... Today it is a production - 20x20 tent - green chairs - table w/ table clothes - water jugs to wash off. After the salt patch me and my brother go to my dads house - wash everything with ajax and put everything away.
Harvesting Salt is a lot easier then the days of preparing the salt beds. When we get down to the patch at 7 - tent needs to be put up - washing stations set up - drying tables for the salt that was just washed - it takes a lot of prep even before we start the process. My father rakes each bed starting with the first layer - the whitest layer - the cream of the crop. This is the stuff that is not passed out - this is the stuff that we salt makers hide - this is the stuff that I leave on my kitchen table. This salt is washed maybe once and laid out to dry then put away. It is time for the next later - a little red. This is what is used for cooking, bbqs and this is the salt I trade for things. This salt is washed a little bit more. Next is the bottom layer - the stuff that is harder to wash - the stuff that you really gotta comb through to take out the little bugs. This is where people get confused when they get it. They think this is alae pa'akai. It is not. `Alaea Pa'akai has a real pretty red color to it. `Alaea is the vain that runs through a mountain and is shaved into the salt for minerals. I personally don't like my salt with the `Alaea in it but thats just me. Anyway, this layer is also traded it is used for cooking and blessings.
Yesterday, when the salt was washed and when it came time to divide the salt - my father makes sure everyone that comes and helps is paid. Paid with Pa'akai. He makes sure that even if you are not there the day of the harvest you still get your share of Pa'akai. No one is forgotten for their sweat. Love it!