Maui Lavender  
July, 2003

"Nânea a'o Kula (comfort and serenity of Kula) came into the hearts of two friends with diverse backgrounds but a common philosophy. They each cherished the wisdom passed down to them from their Kupuna (elders). 

"Always go back to the earth to nourish your mind and body." 

May our Lavender bring balance and well being to your life as it has to ours...."
Nanea a`o Kula

My dear sister, Joan,

As I write to you, I may be back at my desk in California, yet immersed in the scents of the Nânea a`o Kula lavender farm, my thoughts return to Maui and I am with you. Easter said lavender allows for clarity of thought, but she said nothing about teleportation.  

Last week, when we spoke on the phone and you told me that you were taking us to see a lavender farm not far from your house in Kula, I was thrilled.  Lavender is but a lighter shade of purple, and the purple freak inside me was turning cartwheels.  

When Sandy and I were little country girls, ages 9 and 6, thereabouts, and you were still a baby, we were allowed to pick two school dresses from the mail-order catalog. One year, a purple dress caught my eye. 

"Oh no, that's too jimina (old-ladyish) for you!" exclaimed Mom.  

I stuck to my choice and awaited its arrival with anticipation.  When finally it did arrive, my purple passion was ignited. Made of a cotton fabric of deep purple plaid (yes, plaid!), its dropped waist bodice was extravagantly pleated with a row of rhinestone (yes, rhinestone!) buttons right down the middle. Sounds pretty ugly, doesn't it?  

When I see it through my adult's mind's eye, I agree with Mom. It was one ugly dress. 

That's me and Mom on the sofa, and Sandy and you in the foreground.  We were so little!

"You're wearing that again," she'd say with dismay, over and over again, sighing as she shook her head. 

But it was purple!  And, as only purple lovers can understand, I felt so pretty in it.  Almost as pretty as that purple fairy you see to the left.

If you're scanning your memory bank for this dress, Joan, you can stop now. I literally wore that sad little dress out. By year's end, it was faded, worn thin and ready for the rag bin. That childhood dress may have the distinction of being the only one that never made it to you as a hand-me-down. Trust me, you were spared.

Now this is definitely an aside, but one that must be preserved for posterity.  One Christmas, Santa gave each of us girls a red cardigan sweater (funny, how Santa mail-ordered his gifts back then, too). Three sisters with matching red sweaters.  Too cute.  So Sandy outgrew her sweater.  Fine.  I wore it for another four years as a hand-me-down.  No problem.  But poor you, Joan.  You outgrew yours.  Then, you wore mine for five years, then later Sandy's for another four years. You went through almost ten years of red sweaters! `Aue. No wonder you like shopping for new clothes. Who could blame you!

This is how you can tell a purple freak from the rest of the world:

She's the passenger on the Hawaiian Airlines plane from LAX to Maui who keeps "oohing and ahhing" over the new plane's
purple seats, the purple blankets, and the flight attendants' purple outfits. 

She's the one who was so taken by the purple utensils and the purple salad bowl, she just had to take a picture of them as she flew back from Maui to LAX.  She's the one who brought home those purple throwaway salad bowls as omiyage (gifts) for her dogs.  They'll make handy portable watering bowls to keep in the car.


That purple freak would be me.



An aside for our memory bank: Our friend, the gorgeous Cynthia "Cindy" Lam Genova, was as surprised to see us as we were to see her as we disembarked. Hawaiian Air is our first choice for two reasons:  the great Hawaiian music and the friendly flight attendants like Cindy who extend our visit to the islands with their onboard Aloha.  

Warm and gracious, she is the model of genuine Hawaiian hospitality. She was tending to the passengers in first class, unaware that we were just a few feet away in coach.  I mention her here, as coincidentally, her side business is our source of purple Hawaiian goods. Because of her, we have our purple handtowels, purple Hawaiian quilt pillows and purple hotpads!

I can't wait to tell her about the lavender products!  


I loved my introduction to Maui lavender!  You couldn't have picked a better Upcountry discovery to share with me. Thank you, my dear sister Joan!  

To more fully express my Mahalo, I put together this Web page so we may relive this beautiful, sunlit day together, as well as to share this wonderful place with family and friends and whoever else might wander into this obscure corner of cyberspace, thanks to you.  

The lavender farm in Kula is a special place to be shared with one and all.

And should the reader who has wandered here be of a suspicious nature or is skeptical in the least, let me assure that reader that I am not connected with the farm at all and my comments are unsolicited. The kind people at Nânea a`o Kula don't even know who we are, except that we were visitors to their farm. 

I recounted how my love for all things purple began, since you were too little to know any of that history. Besides being with my sisters, sweetie (Uncle T) and aunt, fully indulging my purple passion was delightful extravagance for me. 

It also explains why I felt that same little-girl anticipation as you drove our intimate group -- Sandy, Aunty Marion, DH and me --  from the Kamaole Sands condo in broiling Kihei to cool and breezy Kula, past Alana's King Kekaulike High School, your Upcountry house, past Kula Elementary where you now work, and on to the lavender farm, Nânea A`o Kula, tucked in the hills.

I'm so glad you knew where you were going. It is a bit out of the way, but well worth making the trek as we were soon to learn. 


   >> Directions

As the crow  mynah bird flies, Kula looks so close to Kîhei.  But that would be too easy... We went up and down in an inverted U.  How you once drove from Kula to the Maui Prince Hotel at Makena every day for work still astounds me!

This was not our first introduction to lavender. Purple lover that I am, I first fell in love with lavender on an obscure Channel Island off the coast of France in 1982; then again, in the fields of Provence, France in 1984, and more recently, in Mendocino in Northern California.  Click on the blue links in this paragraph to get to pictures of lavender fields. Another sidebar: The Mendocino picture is taken from the cottage we sought out, as it served as the movie set of one of my favorites, SAME TIME, NEXT YEAR, starring Alan Alda and Ellen Burstyn. 

To learn that lavender now actually grows in my homeland and to know that I need only come home to visit lavender  again. Well, I was simply beside myself! 


TEATIME ON THE LÂNAI: Lavender Tea, Lavender Scones, and a Myriad of Lavender Tastes  

After being warmly greeted by Easter Martin at the entrance of the farm, we were encouraged to take a stroll around the rambling, balcony-wrapped house. The garden's 3700 feet elevation affords dramatic, sweeping vistas. Beautiful Maui and the blue, blue Pacific were at our feet. How we miss that ocean when we are away...
I overheard you thanking Aunty Marion for being so good to you when you were little. I closed my eyes and remembered how cute you and Cousin Cynthia looked in your matching dresses and scarves with the cute little fishes that Aunty Marion had sewed. 

We've been blessed with so many who have been nothing but kind to us, and she is one who is at the top of that long list. Aunty Marion wrote the book on how to be the caring, vivacious -- and FUN -- aunty. Although she is married to Mom's brother, she is like a blood aunty. She treated all three of us as if we were her very own daughters. 

How lucky we were on this glorious day to have Aunty Marion all to ourselves!  

When I was at Dean's, I found this 1950s picture of Aunty Marion and Uncle Aki.  Precious. 

(Cynthia and Alan were missed, and I hope they will vicariously enjoy this with us. If they're reading this: PLEASE make it to the San Francisco Family Reunion, 2005. Maybe we can tour a lavender field at one of the Napa wineries together!) 

The 3 Sisters: Sandy from Kealakekua, Kona, me from Southern California & Moloka`i, Joan from Kula with Aunty Marion from Moanalua Valley, Honolulu, O`ahu

After taking in those breathtaking panoramic views off the lânai, we were invited to leisurely sip some aromatic, delicious lavender herb tea, a blend of chamomile, lemon balm and mint along with dried lavender, while sampling foods seasoned with lavender.  

Uncle T noticed that my tee-shirt matched the lavender on the table. This color coordination was not intentional, I assure you, but I suspect my subconscious mind was tickled purple at the prospect of this lavender experience. I blended not only with the lavender flowers in the garden, but the lavender jars of lavender goodies, and even the lavender railing that leads to the parking lot.

Like a proper lady, I broke my lavender-flecked scone baked by "Jeannie the Bread Lady" of Kula into bite-sized pieces.  And for a practical reason:  I intended to sample EVERYTHING.  

I slathered each piece with a different spread: honey infused with a sprig of lavender from "Dennis the Honey Man," and  lilikoi (passion fruit) jelly with lavender and lavender peach jam made by Shirley Buetler of Upcountry Jams and Jellies

I savored and enjoyed every bite and taste of their collective treats. What a job well done by the Upcountry folks!  I was gladdened to learn that the local enterprises are supportive of each other. The Hawaiian values of kôkua (cooperation) and lôkahi (unity) of our childhood endure and continue to make total sense in today's Hawai`i. 

Truth be told, I REALLY wanted to scarf down another scone, such a weakness I have for scones. These were THAT delicious with a unique and pleasant crunchiness. But, I knew our family reunion dinner at the Maui Beach Hotel's  “All You Can Eat Lobster, King Crab Legs, Seafood, Prime Rib and Japanese Buffet" was going to be one unholy pig-out session that night, so I exercised restraint. Good t'ing, as dinner was exactly the pig-out that I thought it might be. This family can put it away -- especially those crab legs!  

Easter Martin gave us an informative orientation of the lavender farm which began a few short years ago. It is readily apparent that she is a quick study.  As product developer, aka, the Lavender Scientist, she has accomplished much in a short time, including becoming a fount of lavender knowledge. 

She kept our interest as she elaborated on lavender extensively and authoritatively. Besides our tea fare, we learned that Nânea a'o Kula also makes a lavender herb salt, lavender sugar, lavender vinegar and lavender herb dressing. 

Also, lavender's unforgettable fragrance has been distilled into essential lavender oil that is used in lavender lotions, lavender candles, lavender perfume, lavender soap, lavender sachets, lavender pillows, lavender mini-zabutons, and lavender aromatherapy products. 

Am I beginning to sound like Bubba in the movie, FORREST GUMP?

Those who are allergy prone will be happy to learn that lavender is one of the few floras that are the least allergenic. 

She shared her creations with us by passing around tins and bottles of lotion for us to sample. Through the years, she explained, lavender has been known to calm nerves, relieve stress, headaches, and insomnia, ease depression, uplift the spirit and arouse passion. I made a mental note to pick up a tin of lavender gardener's salve made with shea butter, a most wonderful emollient.  DH sampled some lavender oil which he rubbed into a fresh mosquito bite and it took away the itch and inflammation within minutes. 

A bit of 'Net searching revealed the following:

Traditionally, lavender has been used to protect linens from moths and freshen sickrooms.  It has also been used to sooth troubled minds and as a medicine for hysteria, nervous palpitations, hoarseness, toothaches, sore joints, apoplexy and colic. Its uses today include repelling mosquitos. (I am now officially sold on lavender!)  More info...



The lavender plantings, Lavender Scientist Easter Martin and me

Easter was our personal guide for the garden walking tour along the undulating hillside. Walking shoes and a hat are advised.  Small flowers of every shade and nuance of purple emerge, wand-like, on small spikes held on stalks above the foliage. The foliage is attractively lacy, fragrant and grayish-blue.  
As we strolled the lavender lined paths, we got upclose and personal with lavender. Stopping often, Easter encouraged us to pick and sniff the flowers and leaves. 

Easter snipped lavender blooms for each of us, and we each ended up with a fussy wussy  messy fussie tussie mussie  mussie tussie -- a small bouquet -- to take home as a keepsake array of fragrances and lavender colors.

We learned that once the idea of Maui lavender was sparked, Lavender Engineer Ali`i Chang, the farm's green thumb and Easter's partner in this business venture, planted his first lavender beds in 2001.  

Lavender in tropical Hawai`i?  Who would have thought it possible?  And growing it on a sleeping volcano, on the cinder covered slopes of Mount Haleakala!  A novel idea. One whose time had come.

Ali`i Chang  

Inspired, Ali'i, the master gardener, forged ahead and has since been constantly expanding the plantings, yanking out old protea bushes and replacing them with lavender plants.  He started with four kinds of lavender, and now there are 27 different kinds of lavender and more than 11,000 plants on three hillside acres. There are at least a 100 different kinds of lavender, so Ali`i will be challenged to find and try to grow them here.

Elsewhere in the world, the flowers mostly appear in Spring. In Kula, they bloom all year round. 

The cornucopia of lavender products evolved when Ali`i enlisted the help of Easter, an old friend with a fertile mind and lively imagination and now co-owner in charge of product development. Easter's friend from France, where lavender is a way of life, introduced her to lavender products and processing information.  

So enterprising, so akamai (smart), these two kama`âina (children of the land)!  

Ali`i hopes to cover the pastured hillside behind the house with lavender fields.  I am envisioning this for my next visit:

As he intended, Ali`i's meandering pastel gardens are reminiscent of Monet's garden paintings, specifically, The Artist's Garden in Giverny. 

Loving sunny days, cool nights and dry conditions, lavender has found a home on the slopes of Haleakalâ. Upcountry Maui provides an ideal microclimate with its Hawaiian sunshine, cool elevation, excellent drainage, rich volcanic soil and lack of water. Requiring minimal watering and no fertilizing, lavender is xeriscapably perfect for Kula. 

Lavender is actually native to Mediterranean regions. The so-called English Lavender was actually introduced by the Romans while conquering the British Isles. What is commonly known in the US as "French Lavender" is hardly ever found natively in France.

Lavender is now the perfect hânai (adopted) child of Maui.

As we entered the Secret Garden, Easter picked some pohâ (cape gooseberry) right off the plant for us to sample.  We reminisced how this nature-wrapped treat was our after-school snack, growing up in Pahoa on the Big Island. 

There, under the cool shade of a huge avocado tree, we drank in the view of the garden and admired the lush plantings of palapalai (a fern). I crushed a leaf and deeply inhaled its fresh ferny fragrance. 

Palapalai's scent mixes well with lavender's.  

Ducking through a plant-covered arbor, we take a breather in the Secret Garden. And what is its secret the visitor may ask?  

If I disclose too much, it won't be a secret garden anymore. Each must go to Maui and to the lavender farm and see it for themselves. A secret is a secret. 




We sat a while and 'talked story,' local-style.  Easter shared with us the history of her name. Before we asked the obvious, she informed us that she was born on an Easter Sunday.  Apparently, her parents had boiled the choices down to two: a name that started with the letter "G" -- was it Giselle? Grisela? Gertrude?  Poina au!  (I forget!) Well, anyway, the name Easter won out.  It suits her, as she exudes a springtime freshness.

She is half-Filipina, one quarter Chinese, one quarter Hawaiian; typically local, i.e., down-to-earth and unpretentious, originally from Lâna`i, a grad from the 70s, and, in our opinion, 100% ALOHA.  A mother of sons, she laughingly tell us that they are her guinea pigs for her lavender facials, potions, lotions, and salves.  Auę, powah t'ings. But bettah dem den us, yeah!

Her passion and enthusiasm for lavender is inspiring.  Her inventive mind is nothing short of impressive, as it bubbles and brims with ideas for innovative lavender products.




And who is this lovely lady full of grace with my husband, Uncle T (aka DH)?  

Uncle T's smile in the picture above speaks volumes. For us who love Hawaiian music, Emma Veary was the unexpected -- and ultimate thrill -- that awaited us at the end of the path at the lavender garden.  She was the lavender-flavored cherry on top of a most delectable lavender sundae!

She is Ali`i Chang's longtime friend, renowned Hawai`i singer Emma Veary.  She is also his muse, when a few years ago she handed Ali`i a bouquet of lavender she had brought back from the Pacific Northwest, home of the legendary festival held in honor of the bloom each year. From that gifting came the inspiration to grow lavender on the slopes of Haleakalâ. 

Yes, it was Emma Veary who spawned the idea, giving impetus for the creation of the lavender garden. Ha`aha`a (Humble), she would not say this, herself.  I read this as I researched Maui lavender on the 'Net this morning.  

These days, she shares the vision of the garden and is actively fulfilling the mission of Nânea a`o Kula. She graces the gift shop with her welcoming presence. She not only presides over it with her miki`oi (meticulous) touches and loving care, but also attends to those who come to it with her warm ALOHA. Her spirit of mâlama (caring) is felt in every nook and cranny of this delightful and memorably aromatic store.

As we spoke, her mother's book, CHANGE WE MUST, popped into mind. A PURPLE book!  I think it would blend in well with the lavenders. Like her daughter's singing, Nana Veary's writing about her spiritual life in Hawai`i has so much mana (spiritual energy) and Aloha.  Her book is a salve to people's hearts and souls. Her writing style has been described as "clear and deep and still as a mountain pool."  I agree.


Beautiful, ample and lush, her BEST OF EMMA CD is a classic that we have treasured since its release in 1999.

We grew up with Emma Veary's music.  What a voice!  Soaringly celestial. Loving her music and admiring her talent, we were honored to meet her and make her acquaintance. 

We were in the presence of Hawaiian musical royalty and were humbled by it. With regal bearing, she proudly volunteered that she is 72 years old -- make that 72 years YOUNG. 

Sheer elegance, she looks FABULOUS.  I know, I know, MUST be the lavender!  And like lavender, she too is beautiful and down-to-earth!

She sang us a few bars of  Hawai`i Aloha --  a generous portion of herself.  It was a gift from her heart, one that we will never forget.  

Mahalo e Emma Veary! 


Aunty D (aka AU), Easter Martin, Joan, Sandy and Aunty Marion 
Nanea a`o Kula Studio/Gift Shop

This is just outside Easter Martin's studio/gift shop. This is her "bebe girl" (baby daughter). And she fills it with lots of smell-good, feel-good, taste-good items.  Bunches of lavender hang from the ceiling to dry.  Wands of lavender to tuck into linen drawers fill jars on the shelves.  An array of candles ("You must always take a bath with candles!"), soaps, spritzers, mists, bubble bath, and lotions of lavender fill the shelves. If something can be made out of lavender, Easter's made it, is making it or will soon be making it.  >> Check out her full product line

As Easter said, "Lavender has been known to arouse passion."  Coupled with my passion for purple and her contagious enthusiasm for lavender, I was in Heaven in her studio/shop. My purple passion was definitely aroused.

Her shop is not just filled with girly things. As examples, since I look at my husband more than anybody, I thought it was a good idea to don him in lavender-purple apparel.  I crowned him with a cap with a purple dragonfly. He wore it well. Besides serving as a cleverly designed `okina in their logo, the dragonfly symbolizes light and joy. The perfect symbolism for this day.

I held up a royal purple polo shirt against his chest. Emma Veary and I both agreed it suited him. You can see him in purple for yourself below, although the photo hardly does justice to the richness of its deep purple hue. What do you think?  Sexy nô!

Back in California with our goodies.  
A passionate man with Freddy and `Oli.

We scooped up a bunch of mini-zabuton sachets filled with fragrant lavender for my co-workers, neighbors who so kindly watched and fed our dogs, and hula sisters.  The perfect stress-relieving gift for LA dwellers!  When life gets to them or they're feeling depressed, they just have to pat on their mini-zabutons to release the lavender's calming fragrance. Did I get that right, Easter?  Perhaps a natural alternative to Prozac, Paxil or Zoloft?  No doubt with added benefits and less side-effects.

Since I can smell myself and I love to garden, I treated myself to a vial of lavender essential oil and a tin of lavender gardener's salve.  If Easter's right about lavender being a romantic herb, Uncle T and I are going to be one hot mama and flamin' papa.  A purple-passionate couple. 

Do you know what I think is the best thing about these gifts?  Just like your sweet gift that you made for us, Joan, they are homegrown and Hawai`i-made!  'Da bes' kine.  If we don't support our locals, shame on us!  So if you're reading this, kind visitor to Hawai`i, PLEASE support the folks who make your trip authentically Hawaiian.  ALWAYS buy Hawai`i-made.  INSIST ON IT.  Hawaiian crafts, Hawaiian music, Hawaiian foods, Hawaiian lavender.

And Joan, you know what's even more special about these gifts from the gift shop?  They have Emma Veary's mana in them.  She personally ho`onaninani'd them with pretty ribbons and packaged them up for us in -- guess what color? --  lavender bags.

The kind folks at Nânea a`o Kula have accomplished their mission: Within two hours, our lives were enriched, by "evoking of joy, delight, rejuvenation, comfort and serenity" by the Lavender Experience. That's a tall order, and they filled it.



So I've come to the end of my thank you note, my dear sister Joan.  

Mahalo for all your hard work in making the Iwata Family Reunion, Maui 2003, happen and with such style.  With  30+ of us in attendance, this was no small or easy feat.  The Maui Gang -- you, Mitch, and Alana; Milton, Naomi, Mika and Mari; and Dean, Lei, and Carissa -- made it a huge success.  

The program and itinerary.  The Friday night pűpű and dinner party at the condo suite was fantastic.  Amazing quantities of food, and all so `ono.  We loved our accommodations -- BIG MAHALO for that!!  Arranging all the varied activities. Photography by Ricky.  Dinner at the Maui Beach Hotel.  Driving us to Kula, then to your house to visit with BigDog and Hâna, and stopping at Maui Mall for Tasaka's guriguri.  Finding Dean at the beach for fishing. Beer and tacos at Polli's in Makawao.  The cone sushi, pűpű, and purple potato pie that you brought over to Dean's house for dinner (I wish we had a Pukalani Superette down the road!)  

BigDog & Uncle T

Hâna in action.
David Letterman, listen up:  
This is the smartest dog in the world.

Pono, Jenna, & Alana

Mitch & Us

"Success is in the details," and you attended to every one of them.  Your hotel management skills came to the fore.

Please thank Alana for the flowers that decorated the reunion "headquarters" at Kama`ole Sands and Mitch for the bottles of Murphy-Goode wine -- with the purple labels and cork covers -- with Sunday's dinner. The Merlot was perfection. And Uncle T loved the Fumé Blanc.  

Alana's Flowers (Thoughtful!)

Mitch's Wine (Smooth!)

Joan's Salt Rub (`Ono loa!)

As soon as we got back, Joan, we rubbed your seasoned `alaea salt into some chicken and stuck in the oven. You should go in business!  So simple and soooooooo `ono, was.  And yes, "angels danced the day you were born." Why? Because they saw how happy it made me to have you as my little dolly sister. "Words are the voice of the heart" -- especially for  folks like me who 'no can sing good.'  I hope that with these electronically written words, you hear my heart.   

Now you can relax and take a well-deserved break, Joan. Time for you to nânea (relax, rejuvenate).  I hope this reliving of this beautiful Kula morning has allowed you to do just that!  

Especially MAHALO for arranging this magical time in Kula for us.  While the rest of the `ohana (family) was golfing and doing the beach thing, three sisters originally from Pahoa, their SUPAH aunty and the horticulturist in the family got to spend precious moments in a beautiful, fragrant garden, out in the country. Lucky for us, it just so happens that your 'backyard'  includes the slopes of Haleakalâ -- the home of the Maui lavender garden, Nânea a`o Kula.  

It was so lavenderly lovely.

Your ever-lovin' sister, me ke Aloha,

>> If you haven't already done so, be sure to check Nânea a`o Kula's own beautiful lavender Web site:

P.S.  Look what I found on the `Net...


Either dried lavender, the kind you find on spice racks, or fresh lavender can be used in this not-too-sweet tea cake. The recipe was tested with dried lavender, pulverized in a mini food processor, before measuring.

  • 1 cup granulated sugar

  • 5 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened

  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 large egg

  • 1 large egg white

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt

  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh lavender leaves, or 1 tablespoon finely chopped dried lavender

  • Cooking spray



  • 1/3 cup sifted confectioners' sugar

  • 1 teaspoon water

  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 8-inch loaf pan with cooking spray, and set aside.

For the cake: Beat sugar, butter and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla at medium speed of a mixer until well blended, about 5 minutes. Add egg and egg white, one at a time, and beat well after each addition. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cups; level with knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and stir well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternately with yogurt, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Stir in lavender. Pour into 8-inch loaf pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees 1 hour, or until wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Glaze: Combine ingredients spread over hot cake. Cool in pan 20 minutes on wire rack. Remove from pan and cool completely. Makes 10 slices. Cake can be frozen.

Note: If flowering lavender is available, put a flower on each plate when you serve the cake.

  "The only gift is a portion of thyself."
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

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