Different, these seasonal shifts here in Hawaii. It has been the coldest winter that we have experienced in nearly a decade of living on the islands. Yet unbelievably to most mainlanders, spring is here. Birds are mating, horses are shedding and the wind’s currents here on the north shore shift in every direction, pulling windmills into unfamiliar patterns. Rains continue, still without complaint from us as we are situated in a dry area prone to drought these past few years.
The landscape seems charged with magic. Shrubs and trees planted only a few years ago that started a foot high have grown up to fifteen feet. Farmers markets explode in lettuce, kale, bok choy, chard – beets maturing from seed reach a foot tall inside a couple of weeks. Citrus trees are heavily laden with fruit and baskets and bowls of them sit around the kitchen like unmoving guests awaiting a banquet. Bananas hang in bunches in the garage, ripening in stages.
Yet somehow I find myself reminiscing about the northeast, awakening in its own profound sense in its own time, still a couple of months distant. After thirty-two years on that coast, I miss not the cold and hardship that winter brings, but the unmistakable transition of the seasons, the land emerging from its blanket of white and grey into greens, reds, yellows, periwinkles, violets and pinks in any palette you might imagine. The lime green of sedges; the brilliant orange of copse fungi. Growing things that seem to sense they have only a brief time in which to deck themselves splendiferously out.
Birds gather and descend onto land, seeking the abundant feast that awaits. Flocks of purple-sheened grackles crack and caw, settling sleek black bodies onto half-rotten fenceposts. Evening grosbeaks stun with brilliant colors dreamed only in the tropics. Loons lilt overhead, heavy-boned bodies laboring to alight onto stretches of open water. Foxes, marten, bear and raccoon; moose, deer, skunk and mink resume mating rituals. The woods vibrate with life; underground springs gurgle as last year’s leaves mulch into thickly carpeted trails.
Yes, our island spring is glorious to behold. Northern New Englanders have to yearn a month or two yet, before snowmelt and mud give way to popping buds and solid pathways. Patience is ever rewarded, however, with vistas altered by the passing of the seasons. Nothing, and everything, changes – revealing itself afresh to wondrous eyes fixed on changing horizons.