I miss the smells of Hawaii. Plumeria, ginger, gardenia. A passing rainshower on a hot afternoon. No not that Hawaii (well, okay, that one too). BUT- one of my favorite smells from the islands is the smell of native forest. High above the acres of introduced turf grasses, palms and showy flowers it begins to smell sort of sulfurous, volcanic.
The heavy mists blow quickly over the slopes, obscuring your view of the valley below with some regularity. Or you could be in this mist for hours, and while it never really rains, you could be soaked and shivering within minutes. Those hikers who wore shorts in the parking lot and looked quizzically at you when you trudged off with your rain pants and jacket might understand if they have not already turned back, too cold.
Uluhe and ohia grip the crumbly ground with their roots. Uluhe tricks you into seeing solid ground where there is not. Crush this leaf and you will smell the most amazing citrus smell- what is it doing here? Here it is easy to understand why fungus joined plant roots to create mycorrhizae and why some plants developed the ability to “fix” nitrogen from the air. There is so little; make due or die. Here the world is harsher and those mutualistic, parasitic and all those in-between symbiotic relationships make more sense.
Here it smells like the world at its beginning.