Monday, August 3, 2009

kau wela

n. Summer, hot season.

We have two seasons in Hawai‘i: Kau wela and kau hoʻoilo. Summer and winter. In fact, the whole notion of "season" is rather foreign to Hawaiians. Kau is another word that refers to summer, although it is also the general term for season.

How many children in our schools here in Hawaiʻi realize we have just two seasons? How many children would be able to list some of the specific characteristics of kau wela and hoʻoilo? How many would be able to say when kau wela begins and hoʻoilo begins? And yet when we were elementary school students, we all got drilled on the four seasons, summer, fall, winter, spring. We learned about leaves changing colors and falling, even though we donʻt even have that here in Hawaiʻi. We learned and read tons of stories about snow and m aking snow angels. Not to mention learning about penguins and icebergs. We learned about apples but apples donʻt grow in our back yard (unless you live in Keanakolu up Mānā Road which has great apples!). Donʻt get me wrong. I think itʻs important to get a broad view of our world. But more importantly, first teach us about our own ʻāina and help us to be cognizant of what is right here in our own backyard. Teach about mountain apple and how mango came to Hawaiʻi. And then from that we can scaffold all of this other knowledge about other lands. Then we can perhaps understand why the climate is the way it is here and not in Alaska. And the importance of apples and oranges in North America.

We canʻt put an exact date and time on when kau wela is and when hoʻoilo occurs. But we definitely know when the humpback whales arrive we are entering hoʻoilo, right? And they never come on the same date. They know when the waters will begin to get too cold for them up North. And when the plumerias begin to bloom, it must be approaching kau wela.

We look forward to both kau wela and hoʻoilo here for many reasons. For me, I cannot wait for mango and lychee season, announcing that kau wela has arrived. And what about big surf and whale watching? Those are things I look forward to in hoʻoilo. And during that same season you can guarantee that the sand will disappear in certain areas, and the kōlea, or golden plover, will arrive from Alaska to get all fat before returning to their homes up North.

For now, I will enjoy what is left of kau wela, despite the extreme heat and humidity. It is always a good excuse to drop everything and head for the beach.

Makemake au i ke kau wela - I like summer.
Hānau ʻia kuʻu mau moʻopuna i ke kau wela - My grandchildren were born in the summer.

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE THAT WORD, KAU WELA! It rolls off your tongue...luscious!