Friday, May 7, 2010

Kalapana talk story

A few days ago, lava spilling out of Pu'u O'o once again flowed over the roadway at Kalapana. A stream of visitors arrived via tour caddies and in their cars, many taking precious hours from their cruise stop-over hoping for a sight of glowing hot lava spilling on asphalt, overtaking the traces of human occupation. The visitor viewing platform was closed off, and as close as anyone was allowed was too far to even recognize the lava in view was still hotter than the inside of a pizza oven. So the crowds ebbed and flowed like disappointed waves on the shore. They had to be aboard their ship before nightfall or be left behind. Best lava viewing is in the darkness of dawn or dusk, when the lava glows orange red; the frantic fiery foaming bloodstream of the earth herself.

It is not such a romance for the people of Kalapana. Once not too long ago, Kalapana was a sweet village on a remote Puna shore. In 1990, the lava flowed inexorably over houses and streets, over Walter's Kalapana Store and Drive In, over the black sand beach. The slow moving pahoehoe lava would take days and weeks in its inexorable path to the sea. There are still houses in Kalapana that survived, resting in serene green foliage. There are new houses erected on the black lava. There is a new black sand beach, with a red cinder path crossing it down to the ocean. The beach and path are planted with coconut palms laying human claim again to the ocean front. The ocean laps in wild splendor at the black black sand, tossing up lava rocks rolled and swirled from the churning lava entering the ocean just down the coastline, there, where the plumes of steam rise like clouds off the ocean edge.

And now here comes the lava flow again, edging toward yet another house in Kalapana.

This lava tiki stands along the roadway guarding a house in Kalapana. Tikis and ti leaves are protection here on the Big Island. When you live with a jealous goddess you become respectful and find ways to show your respect. This imposing tiki is carved from lava. The watchful eyes are much more prominent than the devouring mouth, forever in a clench that is unlikely to yaw open and munch up the land over which it watches.

Aloha from the land of Pele, Ka wahine 'ai honua, the woman who devours the land.

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