Big Island Of Hawaii's Puna District near the volcano
"All great truths begin as blasphemy." - George Bernard Shaw
"In a time of universal deceit, truth telling becomes a revolutionary act.
- George Orwell
"AAAAAAAIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" - George of the Jungle
A while back, we made a pilgrimage to the Big Island of Hawaii to witness the living lava as it flows from the volcano, cutting across the Puna district and into the sea. Though it is somewhat dangerous and reasonably prohibited, local people soon find their way to new outbreaks by foot over the warm fields of pahoehoe lava and are soon followed by visitors. Not that the volcano operates in secret! From miles away, red light in the sky testifies to activities that are re-shaping the earth by pouring new land. Somewhere offshore another Hawaiian island, 'Loihi' rises to meet the oceans surface; but that will happen thousands of years from now. Video cannot show the actual appearance of the red orange lava as it flows. Nor can it convey the smell of sulfur, like a pinch in the nose, as you set off over new landscape to lay the first human footprint. Lava is first cousin to glass - so you really don't want to fall down out here. Once solidified, the fresh rock radiates deep earth heat for weeks.
Here and there the ground reflects like mirror glass. Our steps crunch or ring a bit as flashlights (torches) snap on and an impromptu tribe heads out towards the glow. No surface is level on the lava field, so walking quickly becomes more absorbing with each deliberate step. Taking the time to look out for collapsed lava tubes or other pukas ('holes,' we use it to mean 'zero' too!) makes progress even more precarious. Well it shouldn't be too easy to approach the homes of the gods! For Pele created these islands unto herself, and is the grandmother, Tutu, of Big Island Hawaiians to this day. She remains closer than myth on this island, close in legends and family stories, and in these very mountains and lands (still smoking!) that we live on. But especially she lives out here where she performs her continuing Hula of destruction and creation. There is now only one inhabited house left in Royal Gardens subdivision. But how can we begrudge her a road, or a house lying in her royal path, when everything here is of her will and bounty? Right now she's in titanic battle with the gods of the waters. . . Finally our small hushed group of humans draws close to the glowing pillar of smoke.
"Look! My sneakers are melting!"
Mine are smoking a bit also, I notice. My feet are really hot. Heat like the mother of ovens goes to work on our suddenly orange faces. It is difficult to look, or to breath. But it is harder to look away. The moving lava pours out like radioactive cake batter. She takes her time - this construction will last millennia, and only those of us who actually witness the movement, the glow, the smell and the heat of Earth creation can know what this miracle is really like - O, Our Mother of Special Effects! Pouring liquid rock, 2,000 degrees hot, falls among the waves, which themselves are never still. Elemental determinations collide. What would you expect? Hissing, threats, advances, retreats fascinate us. No one out here is mentally reciting a shopping list or looking at their watch. I notice a glowing boulder riding along the molten river, as it drops sizzling onto wet sand and is covered over by an avenging wave: Indignant sounds rise up! Hiss! Smoke! Smell! The pohaku (rock/stone) continues to glow, actual fire beneath the sea (!) as I watch it recede eerily into the chilly depths; A lantern for Poseidon. I know I have seen something great!
A L O H A! *cloudia*