Up on the mountain, the mornings have been pleasant - temperatures in the sun about 70 degrees and inside houses maybe 5 degrees cooler. Lately, midday has been another matter. As the sun works its way westward, temperatures climb.
It's a fact that Maui residents can feel very minor fluctuations in temperature. Five degrees one way or another is often the difference between comfort and discomfort. Even newcomers from the Mainland, where 30-degree swings in temperature are not that unusual, soon become weather wimps.
During August, the islands record their highest temperatures, but it seldom gets much above the high 80s. In fact, island weather is so mellow, the National Weather Service doesn't even bother to list all-time highs and lows on its website. Getting the information by telephone is an exercise in futility.
According to TV's Hawaii News Now, Kahului usually has the highest temperature in the state. Guy Hagi reported a date record at Kahului Tuesday. The Maui News weather service reported a high of 92.
There's a theory that could explain Kahului's consistently high temperatures. The weather station, once manned by a crew of a half-dozen and now automated, is a hollow-tile building off to the side of an expanse of asphalt. It's about halfway down the 7,000-foot runway, cooking in the sun.
When it's too hot to gear up for a motorcycle ride with a helmet, jacket, jeans and boots, you know it's ikiiki (stifling). Of course, those foolish squids who wear shorts, tennis shoes or slippers and enjoy the wind across vulnerable scalps probably figure otherwise.
Even at the 2,000-foot level of Haleakala it's been too hot to ride, never mind venturing into the downtown oven. A necessary, midday errand down to Pukalani in the truck was a sweaty affair. Even with the window down for the 45-mph breeze, there was a temptation to hit the button for the air conditioning. Forget about doing anything in the yard. Being too hot is as good an excuse as any to avoid that chore.
Standing or sitting in the shade is OK, but only if there's a breeze. Of late, the trees and brush seldom move. Auwe! Crank open all the windows, drop the shades and fire up the fan. West-facing windows become solar ovens.
August temperatures during a month in Kihei prompted the move to Upcountry 40 years ago. For some, coast living is fine. They tend to be addicted to being in the ocean. One friend seldom makes it through a day without going for a swim. A cautionary note for new water babies: The ocean may be 85 degrees or so but that's 11 degrees below normal body temperature. If you're not swimming with some enthusiasm, you might be a candidate for hypothermia.
Ocean warnings aside, hanging out in Kihei has other charms. On one recent night, the moon was hanging low in the sky. A light, onshore breeze ruffled the surface of the ocean. Tiny waves caught the moonlight, turning strips of the dark ocean surface into a galaxy of winking stars. The air was soft.
Daytime on the coast, most any time of the year, is just too wela (hot), often prompting memories of 100-degree days in the Midwest and nights spent sprawled across a sweat-soaked bed, hoping for some relief from 90-plus temperatures.
Nearly always, the air above 2,000 feet has a certain crispness and nighttime temperatures slide down into the 70s even during the warmest weather. Ahhh, yes. Saddle up for a ride during the magic hours just after dawn or sit and wait for that oven in the sky to disappear at the end of the day.
The swing in daily temperatures went largely unnoticed when work meant five days a week in an air-conditioned office. Ride or drive down in the cool part of the morning. Return home after ahiahi (sunset) and enjoy the night. No sparkling waves but plenty of stars up above on nights when mahina (the moon) is resting. Of course, there are nights when moonlight shrouds starlight. That's another kind of magic.
The unreliable thermometer in the kitchen is inching upward to the mid-80s. It's midday. Cows are standing quietly under a big old kiawe tree in the pasture over there. A mare and her foal have taken refuge in a copse of wattle up the road. The neighbor's three small dogs are nowhere to be seen. The cats are tucked away under clumps of tall grass.
The resident weather wimp is enjoying a light breeze blowing through the house. It's hot, but the weather's not that bad. Is it ever on Maui?
* Ron Youngblood is a retired editor and staff writer for The Maui News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.