They expected to struggle on the frontier, to grow hard and bent in the wind. But life is easy: their kitchen gardens grow sweet, heavy fruits like mango and durian; the ocean brings the flotsam of pagodas wrecked in typhoons: hardwood beams gilded thick and studded with jewels. Winter is nothing more harsh than a graying of the sky and a rising of the surf.

Sometimes they climb to the top of the headlands, walk over the spiky grass into the wind, look out to the pewter-colored water beyond their bay, and wonder what God has done to them.