Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors

In the days before Cook introduced Hawai‘i to the world and an onslaught of foreigners arrived. Back in the days before the old religion was abolished and missionaries arrived on scene. I’ve read that winged creatures represented messengers of the gods, because, unlike mere humans, birds can fly to great lengths and heights. Places far over the sea. Places high in the mountains, where as the scientific phenomenon known as the orographic effect explains, that are often shrouded in mist and clouds and a sense of the ethereal. Birds can easily mix between the mortal and immortal.

I’ve often wondered whether this has something to do with human grief, as well. I’ve listened to more than one friend describe a visitation from a recently passed parent in the form of a bird outside a window. Too, I’ve read grief memoirs in which the author seeks solace in some way in a bird or birding.

Or the grief-bird connection could just be a coincidence.

410IHVzLiALEither way, I was thrilled for my friend Hob Osterlund when her book Holy Mōlī: Albatross and Other Ancestors published a couple weeks ago. And while I wouldn’t label it a grief memoir—it is that and more—I see within it the healing of a young girl in the woman who is Hob today in the love and awe and respect for the amazing winged creature known as a Laysan albatross.

Of course, I love Hob’s subject matter—Laysan albatross, also known as mōlī in the Hawaiian language. I love the stories of Onipa‘a and her umbrella, Colonel Trombone and The Librarian, and the twins Ola and Loa.

I love Hob’s writing style. It is light and fresh and funny and sacred, all at once.

But I expected all that. I’ve sat in writing circles with Hob before and heard her read a few of these passages. I’ve also sat with Hob in Laysan albatross colonies, surveying nesting parents, and swapping out the infertile eggs she mentions in the book. She’s dropped everything and come to my assistance time and again, most especially a few years back when a couple stray dogs tore through a colony of these winged creatures, killing chicks one at a time, chicks that only the day before we’d banded, chicks that were about to fledge—fly for the very first time—in the very near future.

Her HobatrossWhat I didn’t expect from Holy Mōlī was Little Hob. For all we’ve shared over the years, I didn’t know the details of Hob’s childhood, what a feisty kid she was, her tomboy ways, and, most especially, how fiercely she loved her mother, who died of cancer when Hob was young. That’s when I began to understand why Hob was such a birder, as her mother was, and as an adult why Hob took up nursing—her mother’s profession, as well.

Through it all, the stories of Laysan albatross and Little Hob, what comes alive on the page is Hob’s own personality. Her love for life. Her reverence for Laysan albatross. Her humor. The last, we learn, is a trait she inherited from her father.

All this to say, there are many reasons to read my friend Hob’s new book. Please do.

You can purchase it on Amazon; or through her publisher; or for your very own autographed copy, through Kaua‘i Albatross Network. Maybe she’ll even sign it “Her Hobatross,” a name I’ve recently starting calling her.

16 Comments Add yours

  1. Whoa, Kimsters, your generosity and your deep read make me weep—with recognition, with truth, with the magic powers of connection. My deepest thanks for being so fully you.

    Like

    1. Kim says:

      My pleasure. Thank you for writing from the depths of your heart.

      Like

  2. Hob Osterlund says:

    Kimsters, that was very touching to read. I thank you so much for your generous recognition of me and my words. It means the world. Your post joins other great events for me—Native Books is going to have a celebratory book launch in Honolulu on Sunday June 12. PWC is paying for wine and food, Maile is going to ask Sam Ohu Gon to do an opening pule, and I will do a reading and conversation with audience. Then to add to the miracles, Holy Moli has been accepted into the KPNHA bookstore (who would have believed it?) and I will do a signing there on Lighthouse Day. I could hardly catch my breath already, then I read your blog and now I can only weep. I have to go before I short-circuit my keyboard. xoxoxo

    Like

    1. Kim says:

      I am not surprised, at all. Miracles always happen with you and the Laysan albatross. I look forward to your reading during Lighthouse Day. What an absolutely perfect venue as our very birds fly overhead!

      Like

  3. Dana Wilke says:

    Good job!

    Like

    1. Kim says:

      Thank you, Dana!

      Like

  4. Kim: You said all the things I was going to say about this incredible book!! I guess bird-brains think a like?! It was truly a wonderful journey…filled with love, education and heartrending truthfulness! Mahalo to Her Hobatross for sharing this with the world!! I intend to recommend it to everyone i know…. May it spread it’s wings and fly High on the Winds……
    .peace Mika

    Like

    1. Kim says:

      Those big, beautiful albatross wings will have no trouble soaring this book into the world!

      Like

  5. Diane Pike says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your friend. We should all be as fortunate to be able to express feelings so elegantly.

    Like

    1. Kim says:

      Thank you.

      Like

  6. Lizabeth says:

    I have my copy and canʻt wait to read it, even more so now!

    Like

    1. Kim says:

      Read. Read. Read!

      Like

  7. Pam says:

    First let me say that your intro is pure poetry. And second, the entire piece reads with such warmth and generosity. Just beautiful!

    Like

    1. Kim says:

      Aw, I blush. Thank you.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s