Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day - The Start of Summer? Naah...

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. 
P.P.S. I am running two mini-contests until the end of May. Here's how to enter


  1. Thanks to the members of the service for all they do and have done this Memorial Day. Here on the east coast, you are absolutely right that Memorial Day kicks off summer. But weather wise here, it has not been a great spring. We've had a handful of days where it reached into the high 60's and only a handful of days where there hasn't been a lot of wind. Today was supposed to be sunny in the 70's and tomorrow (Memorial Day) is supposed to get in the 80's. I just woke up and it is cloudy and damp, no sun! I hope we begin to see summer soon, but it seems to be hiding this year!! Hawaii's climate is much more up my alley!! Aloha Courtney!!

  2. I'm torn on the concept of living somewhere that never changes seasons. It would be so nice to be able to enjoy the outdoors year-round. But I kind of like the change. I love fall and spring! Although both of those seasons seem to be getting shorter and summer seems to be getting's 85-100 degrees here in Nashville from April to October! Then it's 35 degrees or below most of the rest of the year.

  3. Aloha Courtney,
    Not sure how the weather was in Maui today, but we had a sunny morning, cloudy afternoon and flash floods through the early evening - joy :)
    Not that it stopped hundreds of Tiger Cubs and Cub Scouts from heading to Punchbowl National Cemetery to help "plant" an American flag and lei by every gravestone.
    It was a wonderful event and our six-year-old "got it," which made the whole, wet day more than worthwhile.
    Have a safe and peaceful Memorial Day - and thanks for your post :)

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