When we got off the plane in Kona, we saw a lei stand and Ben had never been lei'd (ha-ha) upon arrival so I picked up this pretty pink and white plumeria lei so that he could experience the full tourist-in-Hawaii feeling. Plumerias smell amazing and they are very common in Hawaii, blooming for much of the year and emitting the sweetest, tropical scent throughout the warm, lowland neighborhoods.
Plumerias remind me of visiting my grandmother's old home in Lanikai (Kailua) on the island of Oahu. When someone was visiting, she'd send my brother and I into the yard to pick from the trees lining their front drive and we'd fill brown paper bags full of yellow and pink plumerias, dripping with white sap. Once inside, we'd string them onto thin thread with a needle, passing the needle through the hollow stem and sliding each flower down until they made a fragrant lei. The plumeria leis are so gorgeous and smell so sweet, but are quickly marred and wilt in the warm weather around your neck, so they are best enjoyed quickly and fully. Once wilted, they can be hung around the back of a chair, or laid on an ottoman so that they keep perfuming the room for days.