Under the Sun
It's not heat or tourists that signals summer
CALENDARS mark next Thursday as the beginning of summer, the day the planet tips the islands and the rest of the Northern Hemisphere more directly toward the sun.
Most people here don't need the notation on a page of squares. By the time the first solstice of the year rolls around, signals of the season are evident.
Rising temperatures press the point hardest.
"Ho, da hot!" and variations thereof rebound through refrigerated malls as sweaty shoppers take their relief in controlled climates.
An adolescent displays skill and experience in barefoot crossings of super-heated asphalt, hopping from one stripe of the crosswalk to the next, knowing the reflective whites tend to stay cooler than the base of black.
Memorial Day finds blanket-to-blanket coverage of the grass under shade at Magic Island as good-fun picnics and sad remembrances of the departed fuse an odd sense for that holiday.
Prodigious mango trees tumble their fat fruit onto the emergency lanes of the H-1 through the Pawaa district, their owners unable or unwilling to take advantage of the bounty. In backyards, plumeria trees flaunt both leaves and blooms as if to confirm their preference for hot and dry.
In Waikiki, a scattering of early tourists hints at the anticipated surge of our economy. Come midseason, sheer numbers and paradise-vacation fever will embolden them to flow from side streets and across Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues in defiance of vehicles and don't-walk signs, scenting the atmosphere with the fragrance of cocoa butter, floral sunscreen and greenbacks.
Up the road, Diamond Head has already thrown off springtime green to don its summer cloak of brown and tan, occasionally releasing puffs of dust that reveal its true nature of aridity. Below its slopes, dawn patrollers haul boards to the south swells, riding until jobs and other obligations force shower-damp bodies out of shorts and rash guards and into Reyn's shirts and khakis.
Warnings also are summer constants. Don't use too much water, or else, say municipal agencies in urban areas. Meanwhile, rural residents are cautioned to check catchment tanks daily because water haulers are backed up a week or more on delivery orders.
Power companies advise customers to sip electricity in the evening hours so as not to draw too much juice, exceed capacity and encounter the horror of rolling blackouts. Leave the dishwasher and clothes dryer to run in the morning, they say. Unplug computers, cellphone chargers and other electronic doodads not in use; open the windows, turn off the lights, the mantra of conservation goes.
Firefighters sound their annual alarms as well. Do clear away dry bush and weeds from homes and other buildings, don't toss lighted cigarettes on the side of the road, do douse hibachi fires thoroughly, don't dump live coals at the foot of a tree, do watch out for reckless would-be firebugs, don't burn trash, leaves and garden wastes in the yard.
None of these flags, however, declares summer in Hawaii more than traffic, or more precisely, the lessening of traffic.
No school means no parent-driven transport of little ones from home to classroom and back. No school means no over-entitled teens in sport sedans and SUVs clogging up freeways and two-lane roads in the mornings and midafternoons. No school means no collegians circling residential neighborhoods in pursuit of parking.
The ebb used to be more pronounced, but in recent years, shorter school vacations have tapped the dry traffic season. In time, as cars and people swell, there may be no abatement at all. Summers will be longer and hotter.
has been on the staff of the Star-Bulletin since 1976. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org