I’m certainly glad that the Polar Vortex has left the mainland. I’ve been reluctant to post anything in the past three weeks because whatever I said about living here on the Big Island would sound like gloating.
But even we have had our weather misfortunes. For two of the last three weeks it’s been raining cats and chickens, pouring like rivers down hills and like faucets off vegetation. Last week a neighbor up the road reported that 19.5 inches of rain fell in 6 days, and in Honoka‘a we had 11.5 inches of rain in two days.
Our dining room sprung a very active leak. Over the two weeks we collected four 5-gallon pails of water. We even had thunder and lightning several days in a row. Before that, I’d heard thunder maybe twice in the two plus years I’ve been here. You could even see the rain pelting the cats’ water dish.
It’s true that I willingly moved to the wet side of the Big Island. I normally love the cooler weather, the lush landscapes and the paucity of tourists. But I’ve never seen it rain so hard for so long. Then I remembered telling someone when I moved here that if we ever got sick of the weather, we could just hop in the car and drive to the dry warm side of the island. Yet I’ve never done that just to change climates.
Why not? Well, gas is expensive. We were recently over-the-moon-happy that the price dropped under $4/gallon (it’s back above now). But that can’t be the total reason. Maybe it’s that I’d feel selfish going to the beach with girlfriends when my family was hard at work studying or working. Maybe I’ve been so busy becoming a resident that neglected to be a tourist.
But no, I just forgot that it could be done. I’ve forgotten to be spontaneous. When that dawned on me over the holidays, I immediately announced to the girls and my husband that I was leaving this weather. Did they want to come? Only Jade leapt at the chance, home from college on break. We jumped in the car, called and then picked up Judy on our way through Waimea, and happily plunged down the mountain on the other side toward the Kohala Coast with its lovely beaches.
But everyone else was there too, either escaping the rain or enjoying the holidays away from work. Both Mauna Kea beaches were full according to the attendant who said she didn’t have any more parking passes to give out. Likewise, the Hapuna Beach parking lot was completely packed. Finally we found a primo parking spot at my favorite beachcombing beach. (Search Beginner’s beachcombing in Hawai‘i, Glassy angular sea surges – sea-glass, and I solemnly swear to enjoy the beach.) As we stepped out of the car, I sighed with the pleasure of the warm sun falling on my shoulders.
The waves were too high to swim for my taste, especially as this beach has lots of large rocks and coral hiding in the water. But we enjoyed watching the surfers ride the waves. Jade and Judy immediately got down to business collecting shells. I was content to sit on the beach and bury my toes in the warm sand. Soon the sound of the waves lulled me into a trance and I lazily watched for patterns in the froth as the waves crept toward me. This was the quiet I was seeking, secluded from the endless roar of rain on my metal roof. This was freshness wrapped in sea breezes, away from the wet mustiness in my closets. This was warmth, so distant from the cold floors of my home. This was just 50 minutes away on the other side of the island! In fact, it’s just 20 minutes away from Faye’s school, so we’re going tomorrow after classes.
For other essays on Big Island Beaches, see:
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