Tantalus Community Work Day – July 27

By Carolyn Carley

Our summer work day was held Saturday, July 27th. We continued to reach out for more participants outside of our residential community. We had two community police officers, one of whom brought his wife; also Senator Brian Taniguchi’s aide with his son, the I.H.S. supervisor, came to lend a hand. Of course, we had our core group of residents. In all we totaled nearly 30 people. City & County came with their front loader & dump truck making a sweep of the mountain picking up the large piles that dedicated workers pulled up to the side of the road.

With the June rains and intense July sunshine, as you all noticed, the growth along the roadside has been phenomenal. We focused efforts on cutting the overgrowth along Round Top Drive and worked on the lower slopes of Tantalus Drive cutting back at corners for sight lines. We continue to coordinate with the City & County to work on trimming Tantalus and Round Top Drives regularly. Once again we’re looking into digging out guinea grass and replacing it with low growth grass.

Lynda Sakraida made a scrumptious Mexican lunch, and Edna Ayling brought her famous poppy seed cake to supplement Lynda’s brownies and lemon cake. Over lunch we talked story about the work that was done and what to do for future community work days.

Join us on our next work day Saturday, October 19th!

Rolling sweet potatoes

By Jennie Peterson

With a Tantalus neighborhood garden currently in the planning stages, it’s a good time to take a look back at perhaps the largest ‘garden’ on the mountain.

Pu`u `Ualaka`a (Round Top) translates as the hill of the rolling sweet potato. Thousands of years ago, this rejuvenation phase cinder cone ejected rich ash and cinder that provided good drainage, mineral rich soil and was blessed with abundant sunshine and enough rain brought by the Kakea winds. With easy access from populated areas, this was a prime gardening spot.

The first record of the cultivation of sweet potatoes is by King Kamehameha the Great. He had his maka`ainana grow them in a large area on the hilltop. Reports say at harvest some of the `uala would roll down the hill and end up growing on the lower slopes. Old-timers reported seeing cultivated patches on the slopes and remember families catching the Manoa trolley with gunny bags full of potatoes on their way to market.

There are several legends that speak to the origin of the name `Ualaka`a. One says that a rat gnawed through the stem of a sweet potato vine sending it down the steep slope where it sprouted. Other stories say the potatoes grew so large they broke free and rolled down the hill crashing into things and causing considerable damage. Whatever the real story is it seems clear it was a most successful crop.

May our garden flourish as well.