Editor’s note: The following column was originally published in the New Hampshire Union Leader on Jan. 29, 1977.
IN EARLY JANUARY, 76 New Hampshire people journeyed to our 50th state to attend the 58th annual meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation. Mildred and I were in the group, and what follows are personal observations.
Hawaii is beautiful. Most anywhere I looked it was as if someone were holding up a giant picture postcard for me to see. The mountains were jagged and steep, confessing their beginning as being thrust up from the sea in an explosion of lava. Lush vegetation crowded the hillside but was being pushed back by dwellings. Each house seemed to be built on top of another, so steep was the place.
I liked the people. Their faces smiled easily and their voices were soft and friendly of tone. The dress was most attractive. I especially noticed the young people, how neat their clothes, how well groomed they were. And I so remarked on several occasions.
My overall impression was most favorable.
Would I like to live there? An emphatic “No!” Why not? The average temperature is about 78 degrees, never getting hardly below 60 nor above 90. Beautiful blue skies with an occasional cloudy period; rainfall in the mountains, in the rain forests, nearly 400 inches, but tapering off in just a few miles to about 60 inches per year on the beach at Waikiki. And there is probably no body of water in the world such an exquisite blue as is the Pacific.
Why, then, if this is such a paradise, would anyone not want to live there? I guess it is the lack of struggle with the forces of the changing seasons. As one Hawaiian chap put it, “We only have two seasons — summer and winter. We know it’s summer when the kids are out of school, and winter because it’s Christmas.”
I like the changing of the seasons of New Hampshire, the urgency of preparing for winter. Harvest time that has to beat the frost. Early planting in spring, hoping for a long growing season. Summer storms that rake the hills with rain and fill the valleys with sound. The soft greens of spring and the exuberance of color in fall.
Perhaps it’s all what you are used to. Several of my friends thought they could learn to live with the Hawaiian climate with very little difficulty. Perhaps I could, too, but even getting back into the coldest winter we have had in some years I haven’t changed my mind as yet.
January in Hawaii is the rainy season. Flowers are not blooming in profusion, a few of the trees are losing their leaves. But to a “mainlander” it was hardly noticeable. There were lots of flowers in bloom, especially poinsettias. Most of the trees were in full leaf and the sun was very warm. It rained very little, and for only short periods. This must have been a bit unusual, for the farmers said this was the driest time Hawaii had experienced for many years. But the growing pineapples looked good. So did the sugar cane and the sweet corn.
One disappointment — the birds. Even after I knew we were going there, I hadn’t thought or even read much about Hawaii. I supposed that there would be great numbers of birds, all different from what I was used to, and that it would be very interesting and exciting to see them and learn about their ways. Actually, compared to New England, there are very few varieties of birds and they are also very few in numbers. At most, since man has known the island, there were nearly 70 species and sub-species of Hawaiian birds. At the present time at least 21 of these are believed to be extinct and another 20 endangered.
Over a period of time, 100 birds have been introduced into the islands and of these, about 50 have been able to thrive. I am sorry to say I did not see one of the native birds and only 12 of the introduced species. The house sparrow was not, as I had feared, the most prevalent of these introduced birds. We saw several, and commonly so, but not in the numbers we have at home.