Lee Cataluna: With summer comes life in the fast lane
Summer used to be about pineapple harvests and fishing off the pier and sterilizing glass jars for making guava jelly. Lazy days, long hours, the luxury of excess. Now it’s rejoicing that it takes 20 minutes less on the H-1 to get to the office. Chee hoo.
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The kids are sweat-streaked and restless, all but lolling out the school windows, dreaming of the someday soon when they’ll be staying up late, sleeping in and spending the glorious hours in between splashing in water and making up games.
The teachers are counting down the days, marking off boxes in their planners with Sharpie pens, happily putting away supplies and noting the last time they have to do recess duty this year, the last all-school assembly, the last department meeting. The yellow plumeria trees are covered in blossoms, proud and ready to be strung onto graduation lei.
Summer is hanging over the edge now, eager to spill out.
That means all the good things, like trees heavy with mangoes, green but full of promise.
Like jacaranda trees in purple glory and shower trees scattering their petals along the street as though each car is traveling down the aisle of a chapel.
But it means all the not-so-good things of summer are coming, too, like the way the outdoor-bathroom stink of downtown Honolulu gets even more pungent, or how the heat radiates off the gleaming new buildings in Kakaako like the set of a space movie, and the disappointment of afternoon rains that cool off nothing and serve only to make the asphalt steam and windows fog.
It means work vans from air-conditioning installation and repair companies parked up and down neighborhood streets. It means hurricanes stir and worries start, triggered by panting media coverage of every potential threat, even the ones thousands of miles away that have little chance of getting here.
It means the threat of brush fires and more tourists doing dangerous things and needing to be rescued. It means beaches burdened with an onslaught of summer revelers determined to have a good time no matter what.
Summer in Hawaii is a season of excess, both good and bad.
But mostly, the mark of summer that so many people on Oahu are commenting about is not about more, but less. When the University of Hawaii is out of school, traffic gets so much better. Soooooooo much better.
The morning commute into town is much faster, even in the hours well before the first UH classes would usually start. The freeway seems wide open in comparison to days when college classes are in session, and even the side streets around campuses are noticeably quiet.
College commuters are rarely blamed or scapegoated when we talk about Oahu’s traffic troubles, but when they’re out of class and off the road, boy is there a noticeable difference.
Good thing the rail is going to fix all that. Ha ha. That joke isn’t even funny anymore.
Summer used to be about pineapple harvests and fishing off the pier and sterilizing glass jars for making guava jelly. Lazy days, long hours, the luxury of excess.
Now it’s rejoicing that it takes 20 minutes less on the H-1 to get to the office. Chee hoo.