The Goddess Speaks
Spring is in the air and it sure smells good
WHEN I came to Hawaii 15 years ago, I fell in love -- in love with the ocean, in love with the language, in love with the island style. I knew that this would be my home.
I was surprised to meet newcomers who didn't feel the same way. Things that worked for me didn't work for them. Some complained that they missed the changing of the seasons.
I hadn't even noticed. I was simply pleased to live in a place where I could wear shorts and sunbathe all year round.
What I know now that I couldn't explain then is that while perhaps subtle, the seasons do change in our island paradise. Distinct signs this week remind me that spring is here.
The yellow shower trees along the H1 freeway are bright with color. But more than the blossoms on the trees, it's the ones that are showing up in vases, behind ears, even lying around on tables. Ones pulled from backyard branches and brought to friends and family from aunties and cousins and sistahs. People want to share the aloha.
Earlier this week I was working out at the Waianae Curves when a lady I know came in. She carried a small bunch of pikake pulled together like a bouquet, wrapped at the bottom with wet paper towel. She'd picked them from her yard that morning.
The intoxicating smell soon filled the room of perspiring women. I deeply inhaled just to catch one more whiff of sweetness.
It happened again yesterday -- twice. I stopped by the Kapolei Starbucks for a Half Café, Sugar Free Vanilla, Two Percent Latte. At the counter I noticed a ceramic mug filled with gardenias. No matter how enticing the coffee smelled, it was these gardenias that awakened my senses and started my day.
At school I asked who was wearing such nice perfume. All of the teenagers pointed to Ulu and said it was her hair. Sure enough, holding back her long brown tresses was a clip woven with fresh pikake. Beautiful hair, wonderful scent.
At Kaiser Nanakuli a vase of fresh-cut roses in an array of colors greets patients at the registration counter.
While flowers are the strongest clue, there are other signs that it's spring.
The other day, my colleague brought me a half-ripe mango. Just one, straight from the tree. Full-on mango season is near, but for now this one tasted half sweet and part tangy, curling my tongue and whetting my appetite.
Ziploc bags of pickled mango are coming any day.
The doves by my house are huddling in families. Ducks are hanging out in pairs, too, flying away as my car comes near while they cross the street.
I also noticed that we're eating dinner later.
The weather is sunny and nice but not too hot. The clouds and rain have stopped for now. The breeze is still cool in the morning, and the noon sun is bearable.
It's spring because it feels like spring. I don't need months of snow and cold or barren trees and grass to tell me that this time is new.
It's much simpler than that.
Sweet and simple as the pikake flower placed on my desk this morning to greet me and fill my office and senses with an intoxicating aroma that says, "Spring is definitely here."
Lorraine Gershun is publications adviser for Searider Productions at Waianae High School.
The Goddess Speaks is a feature column by and about women. If you have something to say, write "The Goddess Speaks," 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210,
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