In the Hawaiian Lunar Calendar, February is the month of Kaulua. Kaulua means two minds, and is a rightful name for this month since the weather will be nice, sunny and calm one moment, and wild with strong winds and torrential rains the next. The month of two minds beckons us to plan for a nice day and also a rainy one, and be able to shift gears at a moment’s notice.
I was born and raised in Manoa Valley where it rains a little almost every day. We raised all kinds of animals including cattle, horses, pigs, goats, geese, ducks, chickens and pigeons. The name of the rain in this valley is called Tuahine, and a song written by my Aunty Ramona Teves’s grandmother, Julia Walanika Paka entitled Rain Tuahine o Manoa, talks about this gentle rain. A line in the song is ‘’Famous is the rain of Wa’ahila that falls upon the pili grass.” In Manoa, if we waited for the rain to stop, we wouldn’t get anything done.
We learned to work around the rain because you can count on rain drops to fall almost every day. As a youngster, my first chore in the morning was to retrieve our milking cow, Nelly Belle, a Golden Guernsey and bring her to the milk shed so my father could milk her. She usually came on her own if I called her, but sometimes when it rained, she would refuse and I would have to walk down a hill in our pasture with my rubber boots and a short rope, catch her in the mud, and lead her up the hill.
Although Manoa doesn’t rain as much as say Hilo, Akaka Falls, or many high elevation places along the Hamakua Coast, we need to be ready to shift our energies and keep busily engaged in a good cause. When it rains, we usually come up with an excuse not to do anything but if we live in harmony with the rain, we learn to adjust to it. For a dedicated gardener, there are always so many chores to catch up on when it rains like cleaning up the propagating area, sharpening tools, replacing a tool handle, cleaning seeds or even ordering more. It might be a good time to fill trays with compost or potting mix waiting for the best moon to arrive. Or maybe the rains won’t come at all, and how do we plan for this climate change?
Hawaiian words are interesting and a slight modification can greatly change its meaning. If you take the word kaulua, and add an okina or glottal stop, you create the word ka’ulua which means to procrastinate, something I do quite well. If you procrastinate too much, you may miss out on a bountiful gardening season or the weeds might overrun your garden. In the month of kaulua, the sun and rain create a combination of ingredients that makes weeds grow right behind you as you’re weeding. In the book The Dirty Life, Kristen Kimball talks about getting those weeds when they’re ‘white threads’ and not wait until they pull back when you try to pull them out.
Enjoy the month of kaulua and take advantage of this special month of our Hawaiian year. The next month will be a time when plants become animated so get ready…