After retirement in 2005, we spent the next four years on the Big Island of Hawaii. In contrast to our years in Alaska, Hawaii is quite close to the equator, and daylight increases only by seconds each day as we moved from winter solstice towards spring and summer.
In Hawaii, after a relatively chilly and damp winter season when there’s a lull in energetics except for the storms and wave action, by March every living thing seemed to awaken and show animated spirit. In the lowlands next of the ocean (makai side), the lovely red Lehua blossoms adorn the Ohia trees which burst with bees gathering nectar and creating the incredible honey which bears the Lehua name. A full, rich-bodied honey with a buttery texture, it was my favorite to sweeten the morning coffee.
My morning routine was either to take my coffee onto the lanai or down the lane to the ocean or some mornings I enjoyed indulging in both. From a comfortable seat on the lanai I watched the myriad of bird life scramble about the crushed lava seeking out insects and seeds to take to their fledglings. At the ocean’s shore, I’d sit on a lava rock and watch the sun rise above the water. If early enough, I could actually feel the exchange of breath between the mountains and ocean and hear the fronds of the stately coconut palms begin trembling as the breezes flowed down from the mountains and then back towards the land. Depending on the height of the waves, I might even catch a glimpse of graceful tropical fish swimming through the transparent waves, highlighted by the rising sun. Sometimes I’d even see the bulkier body of a green sea turtle crest and ride on top a wave. And if extra lucky, the breaching or spouting of a humpback whale and calf!
In the Puna region where we lived, the more wet, windward-side of the Big Island, as the sun set on a March night, the night creatures scurried, hopped, snorted and ran about. It was never quiet at night in the jungle. There were no monkeys but the coqui frogs were a real nasty, noisy nuisance eventually drowning out our conversations and making sleep difficult, emotions irritable. Rats scurried about especially after the rainy, cooler months, and the wild pigs paraded in the fruit orchards or along the walls looking for grubs and roots. Inside the house, cockroaches were kings of the night, cleaning up crumbs and stray popcorn and although they were not poisonous nor did they bite or carry a sting, I just was never able to get used to them. I had a rule, stay outside at night or get sprayed with soapy water and die. We kept a spray bottle and whenever a stray roach made itself visible, it usually found itself showered with soapy water that softened up the underbelly and stopped it dead in its tracks. Yes, I am a killer.
The night gecko crawled up the walls, across windows and set up in the rafters right outside our windows or porch light eating bugs drawn in by the house lights. They were very communicative and we enjoyed listening to them click and scurry about. Unfortunately they are decreasing in number due to a new, foreign invader: the gold dust day geckos who attacked and ate the night gecko. The gold dust day gecko not only was active during the day but also came out at night and scurried about the ceilings in the house eating mosquitoes and other flies drawn to the interior lights. That, to me, was its saving grace; however, it could be quite startling to wake up at night when one of them has fallen from the ceiling and onto the bed.
Now, Hawaii is but another source for memories and we are particularly reminiscent in the cold, wet winter months here on the Olympic Peninsula. The cooler, wet winter months on Hawaii sound mighty inviting in retrospect. Fortunately, I still have a stash of Lehua honey which I draw out every once in awhile and sweeten my morning coffee while gazing through the windows at the Olympic Mountain Range and reminding myself of living in the grace of Gaia and her bountiful gifts.