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Planning a visit to Kauai? We regularly add news and information about events, activities, and places to see on The Garden Isle.

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Sheila Heathcote has lived in Hawaii since 1986. She's a published author on the topic of Kauai and the owner of Hale O Nanakai Bed & Breakfast.

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Winter in the Paradise: Subtle, delightful seasonal changes

Waking up to crystal clear skies with crisp morning temperatures in the low 70s (Fahrenheit)-- after a long night of low and chilly 50 degrees -- is what winter in Hawaii is like. Two blankets, cats curled upon and alongside, and the a desire to linger under the covers after the winter sun has greeted the day, are the hallmarks of a Hawaiian winter for me.

A dusting of snow atop Mauna Kea -- the Big Island's grand-daddy of monoliths at 13,000 feet above sea level -- is Winter's official calling card in the Hawaiian Islands. So much so, that the mountain's name, "Mauna Kea", is  Hawaiian for  "White Mountain,"  because of its propensity for an annual dusting of snow.

Similarly,  Maui's Hale'aka'la (translated "House of the Sun") is not immune to the cold, either.  Coupled with high wind advisories, huge surf hammering north and western shores, and winter storm warnings, "Winter" truly exists in Paradise, as evidenced by these typical, but short-lived, seasonal occurrences from late December until early April.

To us it is "chilly", especially on the beautiful, clear nights when the trade winds depart, and the accumulated cloud and sea-breeze, land-heating, late-day congestion above the interior mountains, dissipates into the last rays of the sunset.

Only then do skies blaze with stars that appear illuminated like a thousand, tiny, dancing torches, held in place by the cold and breathless stillness of the Hawaiian winter night.

On these nights temperatures can drop to the low 50s on the Fahrenheit scale. In the absence of wind, commonly the case with "Kona" conditions that precede a trade-wind-blocking cold front, locals pull out several blankets, pile on hoodies and socks, and drink hot Sake, while the family pets keep themselves warm by huddling close.

It is nights like these that the Milky Way appears as a great opalescent cloak flung across the sky, highlighted by a hundred million sparkling diamond-stars, of value only to the eye or the heart.

Shooting stars are not shy as they streak silently across the dark black canopy of the night.

Nights when the rising full moon illuminates the Waimea Canyon and the dwarfed uplands of the Alakai Swamp, the paths and ancient trails of the ancestors are bathed in an incandescent glow.

These scenes are of colors nearly neutral, but with the passing pale, prism-mist hues of a night time rainbow, or "moon bow." This ethereal circle around the moon, portends weather changes in the future.

Other coastal scenes, when a glittering, moon-illuminated path streams like a diamond-studded highway across the surface of the infinite sea, are as hypnotic and entrancing as the strongest witches brew.

In ancient times, natives here in Hawaii worshipped a plethora of "akua," or gods of nature, just as their counterparts in ancient Greece  worshipped Zeus and Neptune, or the Celts in Europe worshipped the mighty Oak, and native Americans on both Continents worshipped their gods of war and prosperity. 

Like ancient civilizations in the farthest corners of the globe, mankind has changed and evolved in similar ways.

Indigenous races in all corners of the world knew that the wheel of the seasons, the changing times of the year, represented death, rebirth, regeneration and reaping of the bounty of the land and their species. That these were closely associated with, and guided by, the moon, the stars and the ocean tides has become lost to many dwellers of modern times. 

Hawaii is a place where we all can reconnect with our ancestors, the old ways and the appreciation of the sun, moon, stars, tide, ocean and cycles of nature and life.

In Hawaii, in this year of our ancestors, 2013, I celebrate Winter.

It is one of the mildest, benevolent, coolest in temperature and psyche and most beautiful winters I have had the pleasure to  experience. So far we have escaped the decimation of global climate change.

We are triply blessed, living in this state, because of its beauty, lovely weather and the kindness and gentle nature of its people. May we remember our roots, one and all.

Mahalo Ke Akua