From the Editor...
Aloha kākou from Hilo, where I spent three precious weeks between the September issue of the Northwest Hawai`i Times and this October one. Yes, that’s what my life has become ever since we started dis pepa. Used to be everything revolved around the school calendar but now, it’s the newspaper as we go from one issue to the next. Life is…unpredictable.
But Hilo is not, which is probably why I enjoy being anchored there. As I fly willy-nilly all ovah da place, I know I can always go home to Hilo and most things will still be as I remember.
What can be better than waking up to rain pounding on tin roofs? On the first day after I arrive, I hear that comforting sound and even before I open my eyes, I happily remember that I flew into Hilo the night before. Oh sure, everyone likes to complain about the rain, but we Hiloans love it, although some don’t want to admit it. In fact, the rainy, Seattle climate is the reason I decided I could live up here in the Pacific Northwest. It’s RAIN! that keeps me cheerful. I tried living in Honolulu once, down by the ocean even, but the endless sunshine only made me cranky, throwing off I’m sure of all those psychologists connecting sunlight deprivation with mood swings. And it’s true that occasionally, we can overdose on rain, as happened a few years ago when I went to bed in Hilo to the sound of pounding rain and thunderclaps, and even with my eyes closed, could see flashes of light, and in fact, spent the night slipping in and out of sleep, because of the thunder and lightning. We woke up the next morning to more rain, no electricity and, when we turned on the battery-operated radio, reports of flooding all over Hilo, suggestions to stay indoors if our homes were not yet afloat, or head to the nearest Civil Defense shelter. But being nīele, I walked from my parents’ securely lodged house in Kaūmana up to Iwipolena to see if that old stream had sprung back to life. It had, with a vengeance, drowning the new house that had just been built right in its pathway. (When building a house in Hawai`i, it’s a good idea to know where the old stream beds are.) In fact, the raging waters took out houses and roads and flooded parks but that didn’t surprise me, because before Kaūmana, my parents had a house on Lono Street where after a big rain, people used to row a boat up to our porch to get us out. Rain? I love it. Can there be too much? I suppose so.
Besides the glorious rain in Hilo, I can also get my fill of: papayas, jabon, soy beans, and orchids. What fun to take my mother and auntie to the Farmers’ Market, plunk down a buck for four perfectly ripened Solo papayas and listen to them mumbling about paying too much. “You can get six for a dollar on the other row,” my mother tells me. Four for a dollar comes out to a quarter apiece; six for a dollar is $.16666666 per payaya. I don’t eat papayas in Seattle because I have to pay $1.99 for one! I tell them that I should pay that farmer not one but two dollars for the four papayas! Surely his hard work for one papaya is worth more than sixteen cents; in fact, it’s worth more than a buck ninety-nine but too bad he doesn’t get all that money cuz I’d give it to him! They shake their head and roll their eyes. They don’t say “pupule,” but I hear it.
And the orchids. I can buy an orchid plant for $4, a blooming one for $7 and even if the plant dies, I’ve gotten money’s worth of flowers. Orchids in Hilo are my kind of plant, because they just want you to leave them alone. Here in Seattle, all my plants are so needy, requiring just the right amount of water, sunlight, soil conditions, sometimes even conversation, so I manage to kill most of them. But in Hilo, the plants love to be ignored, especially the orchids. Just throw them out by the lava rock pile at the corner of the yard then forget about them, and next thing you know, that green cataleya, the purple dendrobium, the yellow popcorn is blooming away.
Other things I can count on in Hilo are: the old gentleman in a straw hat sitting outside the historic Vana building, playing Lady of Spain and Smoke Gets in Your Eyes on his trumpet; sore stomach from laughing at jokes like “mental tilapia” (don’t worry if you don’t get it); eating four different homemade desserts in one afternoon (long story) and making good use of the best cooling system in the world: the Pacific Ocean. Whenever it’s hot and humid and I’m sweating like a pig, I just head down to Four Mile and jump in the water. No, I don’t do laps – that would be exercising. I just kinda float upright like a jellyfish, enjoying the view of the coast, watching the waves, admiring the coconut trees.
And finally, on a clear night, after turning off all the lights in the house but before going to sleep, I step outside to look up at the millions of stars visible in the skies above good ole Hilo Hawai`i.
Hilo nō ka `oi. ~RdC
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