Under the Sun
Rain eases the hustle and bustle of the city
THE teenage girls shrieked as a cloudburst caught them midway between the parking garage and the entrance to the mall.
Holding tiny purses over their heads as skimpy cover, the duo ran as fast as they could through fat, pelting drops while tiptoeing around shallow puddles to avoid fouling footwear thoroughly ill-suited for the weather.
When they reached cover, they shook off the moisture like little puppies, unaware that they'd transferred some of it to an elderly woman nearby.
The woman, slicker zipped up to chin, umbrella at the ready, didn't seem to mind. She watched with amusement as they pulled tissues from the little bags to dab at kitten-heeled slides identical except for color.
They fretted about damaged hair and makeup, adjusted spaghetti straps and low-rider jeans and swept through the mall's automatic doors as if entering a ballroom, only to shriek again when their damp skin encountered the chill of air conditioning.
The woman smiled at the froth of youthful worries, perhaps recalling a time when such cares were her own. She looked skyward, unfurled her umbrella and ducked into the downpour.
Nothing like a hard rain signals the seasonal change in the islands. The Earth's shift persuades the sun to rise later and slip away from the horizon sooner.
Fall in Hawaii comes with little drama. Unlike in New England where autumn dresses in gold and red resplendence, it sidles in here with showers more frequent and heavier, days lifted from oppressive heat and nights planed with coolness.
In a bakery, a clerk frowned at the deluge, remarking to her colleague that she hated when it rained. To which the other said, "I like rain. Bettah than hot. I hate hot."
At the post office, rain put enough slick on handrails of a stairway so that a young boy could glide down with ease, much to the dismay of his mother. "Your pants all wet," she scolded as she retrieved the umbrella he'd been left to hold while she did business inside. A wet okole didn't seem to bother him, but he was made to sit on a plastic shopping bag to keep the car seats dry.
Out on the road, some cars veered away from the streams of water near curbside while others punched right through the grayish pools, sending up rooster tails that had pedestrians and bus stop denizens scurrying away.
A bicyclist stopped under the freeway overpass to tear off his T-shirt and tuck a sheet of plastic around his backpack. Stuff protected, he pedaled on unconcerned about the water sluicing over his body.
Down at the beach, two or three swimmers who regularly stroke between Magic Island and Kewalo kept their constancy to routine and exercise. Fewer walkers and runners crunched shoes against sandy sidewalk. The rain had forced a small number of our wandering population from weak havens beneath trees to huddle with meager possessions under the eaves of concessions and restrooms.
Game picnickers, determined to cook out, fanned hibachis and Webers, catching smoke under their silver and blue tarps that sagged with water until occasional overflows gushed over the edges, splashing laughing children who dodged in and out of the torrents.
As the gloomy morning moved to gloomy afternoon, there seemed to be a lull in the city. Things that needed doing were done. People went inside, back to their homes, out of the rain. Mall crawling slowed, traffic dwindled. The buzz and racket of weed-whackers, leaf-blowers and other weekend weapons of mass disturbances surrendered to the weather.
Rain gave everyone an excuse to slow down, if only for a day.
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Cynthia Oi has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at: email@example.com