June is my favorite month, as the year heads into the long, warm, perfect days of summer.
It means that in Honolulu, my hometown, the streets and boulevards are festooned with blossoms from old flowering trees - high gold trees on the lawns of the public buildings, pink and yellow shower trees gracefully hanging over the highways.
In the valley where I grew up, the yards are loaded with mangoes and plumerias of all scents and hues. There's enough yellow plumeria on Oahu to drape the statue of Kamehameha downtown with long, long strands reaching the ground. I wonder how many people contributed the flowers.
June also means the return of the shama thrush to my mother's garden, with its coloratura performances at dawn and dusk. We dropped what we were doing when it sang and gave ourselves over to its enthralling vocabulary of whistles, trills and inventions, each song a different composition.
Sonny Gamponia once told me that birds call to mark their territory. Each male learns the family song from his father, then amends it slightly to make it his own. The thrush in my mother's garden must need a wide berth, for its lyrical notes ring out like chimes.
June on Maui has its own joys, of course. I drove one day from sweltering Kahului to a friend's pretty yellow house at the top of Piiholo Road, where the air grew blessedly cool even though there was no wind. I was early, and pulled on to a side street to wait.
The neighborhood dogs barked madly defending against this intrusion but soon fell still. I was alone with a choir of birds singing their mellifluous harmonies from the high trees. These Olinda birds are the true singers, unlike the happy chirpers at our place down below. Their fluted song reverberated, casting a peace.
I must say that compared to Honolulu, parking under the tiny, little trees in Maui parking lots is a real letdown.
Section 19.36A.070 of the county's enlightened parking lot ordinance, created by Chris Hart when he was planning director in the late '80s, states: "Large crown shade trees shall be provided at minimum regular intervals for every five spaces throughout the parking area."
Costco and Walmart have fine shower trees in their parking lots. Don't you love when you find a space on a hot day under a sizeable tree? More and more, however, polite little highly-pruned trees are being substituted, as aesthetics on this island consistently loses out to practicality. Business people want more parking, not more trees.
In 2007, the county redesigned its sidewalk standards and overcompensated with efforts to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. The result is sidewalk rights of way so large there's no room left to plant anything but little lollipop trees.
Apparently Mayor Alan Arakawa agrees with this trend to end large trees in county parking lots where the planting spaces dwindle because the priority is more parking. He recently refused an offer from residents of the Wailea Ulua condominiums who wanted to replace four of the giant monkeypod trees the county allowed to be bulldozed down - without Arborist Committee review - at the Ulua/Mokapu parking lot.
Not enough space, the word came down, even though a professional landscaper who knows her business had scouted out appropriate positions and techniques exist now to plant monkeypods so their roots will never intrude.
The milo trees the county elected to install instead are medium sized, with 25 foot crowns at maturity, a poor choice. Because these trees drop seeds and rubbish all year, they'll be pruned into insignificance before they can reach a decent spread.
What happens when the county doesn't enforce its own ordinances? Nothing. This anti-large tree bias in local government means we are becoming an island without an urban forest - one that saves energy, produces oxygen, cools the air, and yes, dare I say it, beautifies the environment.
A large old plumeria tree hangs over the road in Paia, and its pink blossoms look like stars on the pavement. I'm always delighted when I find a parking place beneath it.
We reap the fruit today of those before us who loved the beauty of large trees and planted them. They are becoming part of our past and will have no place in our children's future.
* Laurel Murphy is a former staff writer for The Maui News whose "Keiki o ka 'Aina" column appears each Tuesday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.