[ by Charles Cameron — language at the heart of worship where the earth erupts in Hawai’i ]
Language! New words! Fresh realities!
Vog and laze are the first words to catch my eye:
Through the laze and vog, Kilauea is giving up some of its secrets.
Then there’s USPACOM and MARFORPAC:
The additional helicopter support from USPACOM and MARFORPAC provides the County of Hawaii and Hawaii’s Joint Task Force-50 tremendous capability
There’s a quiet, professional language of scientists and land management experts once we escape the immediacy of vog and laze — and which blends in easily with the alluring speech of realtors:
At present, Hawaii County Civil Defence officials say the “middle portion of the fissure system” in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens is the most active.
Leilani Estates — no doubt the brochures for the subdivision refer to homes there as desirable — and desirable, no doubt, they are..
And then there is Pele.
Pele goddess of fire is the restless ever-presence of volcanism on the Hawaiian islands. The restless ever-presence of volcanism on the Hawaiian islands is Pele goddess of fire.
Say it how you will, scientific realities meet the goddess on the road. Madame Pele, beloved and feared, spits fiery plumes five miles high, speaks lightning, opens mouths in the earth, belches gases:
Laze contains tiny shards of volcanic glass and killed two people in Hawaii in 2000 after they ventured too close to the boiling acidic cloud.
The flickering tongues of Madame Pele lick out as she pleases:
Flying lava shattered a man’s leg while he was on the third-floor balcony of his home on rural Noni Farms Road.
There is no arguing.
And yet many living in Kilauea’s shadow welcome the eruption, express reverence for Pele and thank her — even when the lava destroys their home.
Fire like snow in a high wind in the Himalayas..
Fire like a river, singing and swinging its way home..
Pele like an artist’s flaming trail of paint between the trees..
The slightest touch of Pele — who dares forge a sword in such a furnace?
Great she is, or to put that another way, the volcanic activity we are now witnessing has a long history and immense potential for destruction — and creation:
The devastation is poised to continue, and experts have little clue as to when, and where, the current flood of lava will cease to flow. But the belief that Pele is both a destroyer and a creator has offered many locals some consolation. They see the goddess’s unpredictability as a fact of life that they not only accept and prepare for but also internalize and revere. The goddess of fire alone decides when she’ll morph from ka wahine ‘ai honua — the woman who devours the earth — into the shaper of sacred land. The myriad ho’okupu (offerings) found all over the Big Island, from Halema’uma’u crater to black-sand beaches to paved highway roads, attest to her grip on its residents.
And Madame Pele has grace in plenty to bestow when she so chooses:
Pele has given us the grace of quiet for today, but we don’t know what tomorrow may bring,” Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said at a community meeting Monday night..
Giver of islands..
“My house was an offering for Pele,” said Monica Devlin, 71, a retired schoolteacher whose home was destroyed by a lava flow. “I’ve been in her backyard for 30 years,” she reflected, doing the math on when she moved here from Northern California. “In that time I learned that Pele created this island in all its stunning beauty. It’s an awe-inspiring process of destruction and creation and I was lucky to glimpse it.”
I offer flowers here in my written thoughts, considering her.
- The Atlantic, Madame Pele’s Grip on Hawaii: The Big Island’s residents are reacting to Kilauea’s latest eruption with a combination of grief and reverence.
- Washington Post, As Hawaii’s Kilauea erupts, volcanologists swarm: ‘I expect great science from this event’
- Washington Post, Hawaii residents returned briefly to a lava-stricken neighborhood. The destruction was ‘surreal.’
- The Express, THIRD Kilauea lava flow reaches ocean causing DEADLY laze as officials prepare EVACUATION
- Reuters, Living with a volcano means dealing with its goddess
- New York Times, Madame Pele, Hawaii’s Goddess of Volcanoes, Awes Those Living in Lava’s Path
- Popular Mechanics, 21 Devastating Photos from Hawaii’s Volcano Eruption
- NBC News, Hawaii volcano lava causes more destruction
- North Shore Shark Adventure, The volcanoes of Hawaii
- Fox News, The Latest: 3 lava flows now reaching ocean off Hawaii