There are only one or two days a month when the moon is in full phase and is visible from my lanai for any observable amount of time. Perhaps it is the impending retirement from the Navy that can be seen just over the horizon, thus giving me due cause to leave this island state, that now focuses my senses on my surroundings.
It was my 3-year old son who first noticed the moon tonight and called attention to it as I was reading the first chapter from Compensation Management in a Knowledge-Based World, required reading for my grad class. But it wasn’t until he was asleep and my 2 month old daughter was, yet again, hanging off my wife’s breast that I went out and really looked at Earth’s oldest satellite.
The moon was already 20 degrees over the horizon and illuminating the Ko’olau Mountains and the perpetual cloud canopy, that seems to tease me by only allowing a partial view of the erosion carved mountain tops, cling to the many crevasses in its nightly resting place. The mountains appear as more of a silhouette as I follow the trail of neighborhood lights up the one of the ridges closest to my vantage point. I started to pinpoint the tops of trees, perhaps fruit bearing and the residents would enjoy a tasty mango harvest a few times a year, and could easily see headlights winding their way up and down the ridge roads. The windward side of the Ko’olau’s reveals a vista scene straight out of a travel agency ad as I drive past little patches of rain forest, complete with banana, coconut, and mango trees.
I truly live in a paradise, in the strictist sense of the word, because nature seems to enlighten every sense with her soft caress. I can smell the occasional wind carried scent of bougainvillea tonight. When the mango trees are in season (ok, I really like mangoes) the sweet scent of a peach like fruit makes its way across the island carried by the trade winds. An occasional detour from my route to work seems to just make everything ok with a short but savored moment of aromatherapy from the many flowers that grow along the road. I distinctly recall plucking a petal-riddled 2 foot branch off a bougainvillea vine to give to my wife (my girlfriend at the time, although ‘girlfriend’ seems a little sophomoric considering I was 32 at the time) and sprinkling the flower petals on top of her bed. It smelled better than any over priced pot pourri from Pier One.
The occasional rain shower makes me feel like the old man who sits on his front porch and exclaims with a prophetic tone, “Rain’s a comin’.” Although it is always raining somewhere on this island it seems like the area I live in only gets it at night or in the early morning hours as I ride my motorcycle to work.
The cultural diversity forces its way onto my senses as I catch the aroma of Asian food cooking somewhere in my apartment building. A late day at work will bring me home as residents are cooking foods that evoke a Pavlonian response as soon as I get off the elevator. Smell has always been a strong trigger for reminiscence for me and I am always teleported to Pusan, Korea walking down Texas Street, very inebriated, and stopping at the numerous sidewalk carts to chow down on mandoo, Korean BBQ chicken skewers, and the egg-ham-cheese sandwich, the latter eaten only as a courtesy to compliment their attempt at American food.
I think that the one thing I will miss is the salty air; perhaps the sailor in me craves it, my sinuses revel in it. I have found that the only place I don’t smell the ocean is when I am driving to the North Shore and the salty mists are replaced by the sweet aroma from the pineapple fields. It takes a lot of willpower for me to pass up the Dole plantation and not stop in for a pineapple whip, a delight God made on the 8th day of his creation streak.
Of course, right on queue, all of these memories and smells, as I stand on my lanai watching Luna rise farther above the mountains, are interrupted by a jackass riding a moped with the muffler ripped off. Only then do I hear the bus that is rumbling down my street, the family of Filipino’s who live below me laughing as they sit on their lanai, and the random screaming, whistling, and horn honking.