For me, it is officially winter on the Big Island when sometimes during the night I reach down a pull up a light blanket. Last night was one of those nights and today it was chilly and rainy all day. November is usually one of the rainiest months of the year. I still remember one November where it never stopped raining for 31 days! That’s 31 days! It tumbled into December. I’m blessed to live on lava rock that is extremely porous so one day after the deluge you would never know it had rained. If I remember correctly we had something like 108 inches in a 24 hr. period. So, when we get 3 or 4 inches at night, I don’t complain! I sleep like a baby when I can hear the soft rain hitting the tin roof of my cottage.
Last month it was still summer. Rain was a little scarce and the grass was starting to look a little pale. It is now very green and all the plants are producing flowers. Although I hate winter (the days are way too short and darkness falls too early) there are a couple of things I always look forward to. One of them is seeing the snow on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. Our mountains are 13,000 ft. + and “going up to the snow” takes on a life of its own. At that altitude children have a hard time breathing after just a minute of playing in the snow. When my boys were young we would go up with a canister of O2. A hit or two of that and we could all throw snowballs, build snowmen, float down the slopes on a rubbish can top or a water skim board. I even skied down the North face once. I use “skied” loosely as I’m not a good skier. I had gone a couple of times when visiting the Mainland and got as far as doing a very poor stim-christy (sp. huh?). So I really didn’t ski down, I skied across, did a little turn, skied across and managed to get to the bottom where I was so exhausted I wasn’t sure I had the energy to hitch-hike to the top again let alone walk (no such thing as a lift). But, in the future I was able to say ” I once skied Mauna Kea” and then leave it at that. I know it will sound funny to people living with five months of snow, but when the temperature drops into the sixties, we are freezing. It’s all about acclimation. Our day to day temp all year long only has a 20-30 degree difference. And, even in the winter most of our days are in the 80’s so when it goes down to 65 it feels darn chilly, especially with a high humidity. I don’t think it’s really the cold so much as the dampness. It would be nice to have a little pot-bellied stove just to take the dampness out of the air.
One of my favorite flowers is a winter bloomer. It starts getting little buds usually in November. Then it slowly bursts into color in Dec. and lasts until April. It is called a “Firecracker” plant and is aptly named as it is an explosion of big balls of little pink flowers. It always helps me to get through the baseball withdrawals I have between Oct. and April when the season starts again.
I love all Christmas decorations in all the stores (although I do wish they would wait until after Thanksgiving). One of the annual traditions I do with my Hawaiian church is to go up to Volcano which is about 4000 ft high. We go up to gather foliage…wawae i’ole, liko lehua, etc. for making fresh wreaths to decorate the church. We all gather at the church along with our ribbons and Christmas balls, etc. We laugh, eat, make a dozen or more wreaths and hang them at the end of every pew. They are always so beautiful, make the church smell like the forest and bring a smile to everyone’s face the following Sunday morning.
Winter is not so bad in Hawai’i. It’s different. Our Santa usually comes into town in an outrigger canoe wearing board shorts and a lei. We may not have snow down here, but we have a Christmas spirit that makes up for it.