Rain is not uncommon in Hawaii, so if you encounter a little during your Hawaii Vacation don’t be surprised, but tonight, there is thunder and lightening — that IS unusual. Traffic crawled from Honolulu to Kailua along wet pavement through low-hanging clouds. Although my evening commute expanded from one to two hours, it is hard to be upset when watching the wisps of clouds hover below the peaks of the beautiful Koolau Mountains.
I was free to be distracted by clouds because I was on a bus and the driver had to focus on the tail lights ahead. I also watched my Twitter stream as people were surprised and then concerned at lightening strikes. In the midwest where I grew up, lightening often cracked the sky, it was an expected part of thunderstorms. Here, it is unexpected and a little frightening for Hawaii locals.
Rain is often referred to as “liquid sunshine” in Hawaii. It is welcome because it cools temperatures, waters our beautiful plants and flowers, and clears volcanic vog, which has been present lately as a result of increased activity by volcanos on Hawaii Island (the Big Island). In Hawaii, rain is just wet — it is not cold or really uncomfortable, just really damp.
I was reminded of how wonderful even the worst Hawaii weather is this weekend. We had an academic conference aimed primarily at undergraduate philosophy students in Hawaii universities. But a group of four young men from the mainland submitted papers and agreed to come present them. It wasn’t until well in to the conference that I realized they were flying out at midnight. They were spending just over 24 hours in Hawaii. That created a buzz among those attending the conference. First, why would you travel so far at your own expense to participate in a brief conference (held on a holiday). Second, why would you stay for just a day?
In conversation, they explained the short visit, saying they were in the midst of classes and had to receive special permission to even be gone this long. One of the speakers then addressed the first question. As he stood behind the podium wearing a lei of welcome, necktie abandoned at the invitation of a senior faculty member, he said: “We’ve been asked why we would travel so far for a one-day conference. To answer that, I’d like to ask a question of my own. Have you ever been to Minnesota in the winter?”
While my commute was long, it took me through clouds and breath-taking mountains and ended with a rainbow. Ah, Hawaii!