Summer never really ends in Hawai’i. Granted it does get a little hotter and there are those few extra days of unbearable humidity and prickly heat—but overall, summer lasts forever here. “Wahhhh…poor baby! It must be SO hard living in such harsh conditions.” I know, I know. And believe me, I’m not complaining. But consider what we don’t experience when summer ends for the rest of the country.
The leaves do not turn colors here. I just spent two and half years living in New Mexico before returning to Hawai’i, and though New Mexico certainly does not experience the extreme seasonal changes that say, the Eastern seaboard does, there were definite changes, and one of them was the turning of leaves. When you come from a place where the leaves are ALWAYS green, it is like a supernatural phenomenon to see leaves turn various shades of red, orange, amber and yellow.
We do not pack away our “summer” clothes. Bathing suits and swim trunks remain part of our yearly wardrobe, as do shorts, tank tops, and slippers. Again, while this sounds like an endless tropical party, it also means that we do not experience, at least comfortably, the seasonal transition of fashion. The “September” edition of Vogue holds little reality for us, not to mention the Winter editions of all other magazines. Sweaters, boots, gloves, tights, cardigans, light-weight scarves, and so forth come in handy almost never in Hawai’i. National chain stores like Old Navy and the Gap display these items on their mannequins in vain, only catering to shoppers that are planning to visit places that actually get cold enough to wear anything with sleeves. And while this may not seem like a valid point to those who take seasonal changes for granted, you have to admit there is an essence of fun involved in switching wardrobes. I know I LOVED wearing cardigans in New Mexico as the weather began to cool. I was ecstatic when winter rolled around and I got to wear my first (and only) pair of UGGs, not because they looked cute, but because my feet were…..cold. Imagine that.
Yet, these are not meant to sound like complaints. The truth of the matter is that endless summers keep us in vacation mode. No, this does not mean that we don’t work or take things seriously—but we don’t take things *as* seriously. When we say “no worries” we mean it. We are not always in a hurry. A popular bumper sticker here says “slow down, this ain’t the mainland.” The cold and biting winters that make people behave in cold and biting ways does not apply here. We are able to go hiking, surfing, bike-riding, jogging, and swimming in comfort all year-round. We tend to be healthier because our bodies don’t experience major temperature changes. We don’t participate in daylight savings so there is no clock-changing or disorientation, and we don’t need heaters or humidifiers.
But summer is more than just a season, isn’t it? Summer is laughter and happiness. It’s sun-kissed cheeks and lips. It’s your first crush. It’s the feeling of weightlessness at dusk. It’s dangling your feet in cool water with your best friend. It’s the first star you see when the sun sets. It’s sitting in the shade while drinking ice-cold lemonade. The spirit of summer does not end for us in Hawai’i regardless of what month it is, and just because the leaves change colors in your neck of the woods doesn’t mean it has to end for you either. Keep it alive in your soul, and your summers will be eternal as it is for us.