A Soft Landing at the Hilo Farmers’ Market

It begins with a breeze. A warm, moist wind that catches you as soon as it can. It not so much glides across your skin as it catches at your pores and hair and drags itself along, leaving behind a light film of the fragrance of, yes, Hawaii.

This does not seem possible. Stop with the travel brochure myths already! Oh, but I am the last person you’ll find who’ll give Hawaii an easy pass. The land and sea of Hawaii really do roil and stew and infuse the air with its spirits.

After years of returning again and again after being away for too long, this same breeze greets me offguard on the airport concourse. And slowly, the chemicals that convince me to live in the Bay Area and work in high tech, start to wear off, being replaced by some kind of softness.

And then, the first thing I want to do is go to the farmers market.

It is the next stage of entry, a place where the scent that greeted me on the concourse is sweetened, concentrated, and magnified.

It is a place to touch and hold and smell the fruits and vegetables I grew up with as abundant staples, which in the Bay Area are either luxuries in the exotic section at Whole Foods or nowhere to be found.

I also insist on going there first because it is a painless way for me to re-enter Hilo proper and be reminded of the beauty and rawness of Hilo people.

I usually look for a cherimoya, mountain apples, a butter pear, and a few sticks of suman. And with each item I pick up, my bag gets heavier and heavier with the memories and flavors of home, which isn’t as bittersweet as usual, because for these next few days, I am at home.

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