Flying into Hilo, my hometown, two weeks ago, I gazed out the airplane window. An endless, supersaturated palette of green, along the Hamakua Coast. While much of the world, including California (my subsequent stomping ground) is suffering from drought, Hilo has had over 12 inches of rain in the month of April alone.
The aerial view was striking. What a vast bountiful island. So much undeveloped land. Still a chance not to ruin it. I thought to myself: I’m lucky to have grown up here.
I didn’t always appreciate Hawai‘i, not enough anyway. One of my worst habits is not appreciating what I have–in the moment. Only afterward does it hit me. Maybe I can see clearly only with distance, in time, in space…
What I like about Hilo:
I like the sound of pounding rain. Not clammy drizzle or all-day grey, but deafening downpours, especially at night. I like Hilo’s dramatic tropical weather.
I like how people always wave or give the shaka sign if you’re driving and let them turn, pass, or enter your lane.
I like that change is slow. Yes, Hilo now has Target, Home Depot, Walmart, and every big-box chain. Yes, Starbucks is the most popular coffee stop in town. Yes, there’s numbing commuter traffic into Hilo from Puna during rush hour. But the population is still less than 45,000, and the small-town vibe remains.
I like to hear birdsong in the morning. Cardinals, doves, mynah birds, plus an occasional gecko clicking or coqui frog chirping, still in night mode.
I like the black night sky. Only in Hilo can I clearly see the North Star. I like that I unexpectedly glimpsed the April 14-15 lunar eclipse on my first night home.
I like walking around Lili‘uokalani Park with my parents. I like how my dad found a coconut, brought it home, dehusked it with his all-purpose pickaxe, and cracked the shell with a hammer. I like fresh coconut, including the water, which tastes nothing like the stuff they sell in cans.
I like waking, automatically, at 6am. I like feeling sleepy by 10pm.
I didn’t always like that my parents bump into friends or acquaintances whenever they go out. In my own life, I prefer more anonymity and fewer blasts from the past. But, visiting Hilo, there’s something nice about the frequent meet-and-greet. It’s a real community, and I like it.
I like the way KTA (locally owned supermarket) is a gathering place on weekends. Families, couples, seniors: stocking up for the week, talking story. Nobody’s in a mad rush.
I like to my mom’s hibiscus collection, blooming in ruffly colorways of pink, orange, yellow, purple, red.
I like starting my breakfast with fresh papaya, plus my dad’s homegrown banana, mountain apple, poha (gooseberry), pomelo, orange, or whatever’s in season.
I like having done a daily morning yoga practice. When staying with family or friends, it can be hard to fit in yoga time; I feel guilty about it, as if I’m selfish or set in my ways. My parents are super cooperative, however, and we synched our morning routines among Dad’s golf, Mom’s exercise, my yoga, breakfast together.
Here’s an outline of my practice, 60-75 minutes:
- Supta Sukhasana, supine backbend on rolled mat, with arm variations
- Fire Log Pose
- Adho Mukha Virasana
- Adho Mukha Svanasana
- Chatushpadasana, three times, alternating with Elbow Plank and Side Elbow Plank
- Supta Virasana
- Salamba Sirsasana
- Salamba Sarvangasana
Images: Taro, dendrobium orchids, and hibiscus, in my parents’ backyard, Hilo, Hawaii, April 2014