The Signs (and Singes) of Summer

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By Diane Haynes Woodburn

Diane Haynes WoodburnIt will be July by the time you read this, but as I write, we are in the last days of May. The sky is a white gray and our little home on the hill is engulfed in clouds, heavily scented with the promise of rain. Hoping to beat the spring shower, I don my jacket and head down our driveway for a quick walk. On the way, I encounter my husband, Jamie, pulling up with a truckload of seedlings. “What’s all this?” I ask.

“The plover is gone,” he announces matter-of-factly. “That means summer’s coming. Time to plant the garden.”

Each autumn, Pacific golden plovers (kolea in Hawaiian) leave their Alaskan habitat to winter in these islands. They faithfully return to their own particular patch of grass for up to twenty seasons. Though they mate for life, ours, sadly, shows up alone to spend the season plucking insects from our grass. Toward late spring, Jamie and I keep a watchful eye on our kolea as his brown-and-gold plumage morphs to a rich black coat with a white breast. Once outfitted in his tundra-proof tuxedo, he is ready to leave.

“He’s gone?” I look around the yard, knowing I won’t see our kolea. The plover’s absence is bittersweet, marking the passing of another season.

I give my head a shake and straighten my shoulders. I should be reveling in all that this rich, ripe season offers. Consider, for example, the July/August issue of Maui No Ka ‘Oi, where we share our favorite Maui County beaches for swimming, surfing, playing with the little ones, and (if living like a tourist is what you’re thinking of) the beach with the best resort amenities — a category I like to call “How Far to the Bar?”

“Live, love, surf . . . and cook.” Now that’s a mantra I could happily follow. It belongs to three surfing buddies who found the formula for living large and eating well, Maui style. Meet the chefs from Three’s Bar & Grill.

Our calendar offers activities galore, as well. Summer is Obon season, when Maui’s Buddhist temples honor the ancestors with dance, taiko drumming, food and festivities — and invite you to join them. Or enjoy a moonlight excursion of coastal dunes led by the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust. Of course, most of summer’s offerings require no guide at all. Stop along a roadside stand to enjoy fresh mangoes, gather your stash of liliko‘i while hiking in a rainforest, picnic on the beach, make s’mores around a campfire.

A summer campfire is something my husband always looks forward to (with the last name of Woodburn, it would be almost genetically impossible for him to feel otherwise). But history has shown it’s a dangerous liaison. A few years ago Jamie built a huge fire for our summer solstice party. Days later, he and I strolled around the yard to investigate the overall damage. He was particularly proud of the huge mound of ash that stood as witness to the past blaze of glory. “I bet it’s still hot in there,” he bragged, and before I could nod in agreement, he plunged his fist and forearm into the ash. I don’t think my eyes have been that wide with astonishment since. As he pulled his arm out of the ash, its hair singed and smoking, we both burst into laughter.

“So, is it hot?” I asked.

“Yep.”

Recalling our summers past, I laugh to myself and take a moment to be thankful for another season together. Instead of going for that walk, I help Jamie unload the tender new plants and place them in the freshly tilled soil. As I kneel to plant a row of basil, I notice the sun burning just a little brighter. The promise of summer is here.

Whether your passion is the ocean, the garden, a hike, or a great meal, I hope you will spend these golden days with the folks you love — and record your stories to be enjoyed for many summers to come.

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