Friday, April 2, 2010

The yards of Hilo.

Went for a walk to go pay my rent today and was struck with the fact of how distinct all the yards in Hilo are. I mean, I'm sure yards are distinct in most places in the world, but in Hilo there seems to be an extra layer of distinctness. I think part of this distinctness is because of the huge range of exotic tropical plants and trees you see in every yard. But what really makes different yards stand out for me, and which you don't see most places, are the distinct lava outcrops (or lack of them) in each yard.

Hilo is really not a flat town, not even down by the sea shore. The streets are deceptively flat down here, but the yards on either side of them are often full of bumps and protuberances, with rocky outcroppings of black basalt poking up through the grass and gleaming dully in the sun. That, I feel, gives each yard a totally different and distinct flavor, because each one has different outcroppings and formations. Or a yard may have no outcroppings, merely bumps and swells like the bulging muscles of some immense beast where the lava beneath has been conquered by the grass above, broken into a layer of growth-supporting soil. I wouldn't go so far as to say that most yards in Hilo have lava outcroppings because I can't claim to be familiar with that much of the city, but certainly a good portion do. Our yard, for instance, has an outcropping in the front running parallel with the road that stands about a foot and a half about the level of the street. It's not much more than a miniature cliff face, however; the grass quickly takes over a little ways in from the road. The basalt fades on one side into the driveway, and on the other into the neighbor's yard where it suddenly loses its layer of top-soil and becomes bare rock for about half of his property before diving below the grass again, only to reappear later on down the street in another form, like a playful pod of dolphins frozen half-in and half-out of the water. I have a suspicion that having lived here I will forever be slightly bored with cities whose yards do not display such variety and originality!

In the category of "learning something new every day", while writing this post I discovered that 'proturbance' is not a recognized English word, at least not according to the dictionaries I consulted. Apparently the correct term is 'protuberance'. I was a little shocked to discover that a word that has been in my vocabulary for I don't know how long would turn out to be a chimera of my imagination like that. I was a little sad, as well, because 'proturbance' sounds much nicer to my ear than 'protuberance'. Though I have not let a word's prior non-existence prevent me from inventing and using it before, I bow to tradition in this case to prevent someone becoming hopelessly confused by trying to look up 'proturbance' in the dictionary.

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