Memorial Day. Besides being a holiday to honor veterans, In the US, it’s the “official” kick off to summer. But in Hawaii, it’s summer year-round. Ok, we kind of sort of have winter. But anyone who has experienced real winter would scoff at us: “Those silly islanders don’t know what winter is!”
Our “winter” means more rain and cooler night temperatures. Generally it still heats up during the day (temperature reaches the high 70s and low 80s in Fahrenheit), and the “winter weather” tends not to affect the dry side of the island. Dry side of the island? What? If I’ve lost you, read more about the “wet” and the “dry” side of the Hawaiian Islands in “Rain.”
Let’s just say our winter in Hawaii is not like your winter in Oklahoma or Canada or even Chile. To the newly arrived to Hawaii, our winter looks like summer everywhere else.
So Memorial Day doesn’t have the same oomph and buzz as it does on the mainland. It’s not the beginning of the mad rush into summer, to enjoy the precious sunlight and the warmer temperatures.
When I lived in Pennsylvania, Memorial Day was a huge deal. It was like the gates opening at the Kentucky Derby. Don’t get in the way, or you’ll be trampled by land-locked Philadelphians galloping “down the shore” to the beaches of New Jersey. Yes, New Jersey has beaches, but they're often not free!
Hawaii gets plenty of light. We even take our sunshine for granted. So, I barely notice when Memorial Day is celebrated except...stores have sales, the kids get the day off from school, and when I pass by the veteran’s cemetery, my heart does a little twist.
The veterans cemeteries are filled with flowers and leis. Grave sites are decorated with little American flags. Many people in Hawaii fought in World War II and Hawaii has always been a strategic place in the Pacific Ocean (think of the Korean War and Vietnam). It’s also a top choice for R & R (rest and relaxation) for soldiers between tours of duty.
Just before Memorial Day, the Kaunoa Seniors Center helps organize a “Blossoms for the Brave” lei making event, to decorate the Makawao Veterans Cemetary. That’s why the cemetery always looks so incredible around Memorial Day.
My mother also served in the military, so my heart twists thinking of her.
Walking along the grass between the plaques, I think there are all these stories of people. People who have passed, and have once loved something. They had stories, but did they share them with their families or did they take them to their graves?
|Makawao Veterans Cemetary during Memorial Day Weekend.|
Uh oh. I didn’t mean to end this post over a box of Kleenex. So, let’s change course…
Memorial Day is the beginning of summer for most Americans, even though summer scientifically starts at summer solstice, June 21st, the longest day of the year. But in Hawaii, our longest day is still only about an hour longer than our shortest day.
We’re close enough to the equator that the days and nights are similar in length. It’s not like Alaska with those super long summer days of sunshine, when it’s 1 am and the sun is shining brightly. Once I visited Germany in August and it seemed like the sun didn’t go down until 9 pm! Hawaii’s just not like that.
So Hawaii's summer isn’t like summer in those temperate climes. We live in summer. We drink summer. We eat summer, we breathe summer, and we can be annoyingly, yes annoyingly, smug about our weather. However, I just got sunburned this week salvaging construction debris for a roof top garden project.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend!
By the way, today on Maui is a great day to visit a small farm.
Saturday plans? We suggest a farm visit, farm tour or shop at a farmers mkt in support of #EHIFarmDay pic.twitter.com/2CIjvoWmHOP.P.S. I am running two mini-contests until the end of May. Here's how to enter.
— Edible HI Islands (@edibleHI) May 23, 2014