Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Volcano at 11!

What else was something to know about nature was what happened the very next year. On the Big Island, Kilauea Iki erupted after being dormant for a period of time. A fountain spewing a thousand feet into the air was clearly visible and spectacular. It was all over the morning TV news as I left for school.

I arrived home from school and Mom told me that we were going to the Big Island to see the volcano. Just like that. Get ready. She had already packed my clothes for a two days stay. Cool.

Clarence Fuji, my Dad’ co worker’s, brother in law was the District Manager of the National Forest at Volcano National Park there.

Shee, what are the chances of that?

We, our family, Pat (who must have been home at the time), Jeannie, Mom, Dad and I, flew over to the Big Isle. Mr. Fuji meet us at the airport and we went to their home in Hilo. After dinner he led us in our rented car into the closed Park. Police had barricaded the entrance. Mr. Fuji in uniform led us through. We drove in along the creator road and got glimpses of the eruption through occasional breaks in the tree lined creator. We came around a curve in the road and behind the erupting volcano. As we got out of car the ground under us was moving. Like a slow sway. Wow! This raging inferno was very loud.

Standing on the asphalt road, slowly moving as we were, we walked maybe a hundred yards where the eruption was directly in front of us. Through the scorched branches of trees in the surrounding darkness was this spewing magma like a giant fountain. So huge! A continuous roar. Much like standing next to a jet engine. In front of us taking up our whole peripheral vision was a Volcano. The eruption was coming out of a fissure in the side of the huge Kilauea creator directly in front of us. It was spewing up and out a thousand feet into the air at a slight angle away from us. The heat was intense. No, it was not intense. It was INTENSE! There was no getting closer. We had to keep an eye out for occasional stray cinders. The road of which we stood upon was pocked with melted asphalt. We had to withdraw. It was way too intense.
The sky was like black in contrast to this raging inferno of yellowish white plume. The trees that remained were all leafless and silhouetted against this plasma.

For what ever time we stood there, maybe around an hour or so, we did so in awe. We would look at each other in the deafening noise and not say a word. As if we could above the noise. It was not just my family. Mr. Fuji understood perfectly.
Yes, that was also spectacular. When we got back to the Fuji’s home, we were surprised to discover our red sun burnt faces. Also that evening we had seen Madame Pele in the flowing river of the molten lava. Mr. Fuji took us back into the Park the next morning and we went back to the same place. It was just as much a raging inferno but the contrast in the day light from the previous night was not as dramatic. The night before was surreal.

That was pretty spectacular. Nature can do that too. ‘check!’

So, in my childhood I learned that nature rules. Not from text books, but from first hand experience. I do not know the dimension that differentiates the observed from the experienced. The sense perception is the same. But the gulf that separates experience from observation is ones personal faith and belief. So far in my life at this tender age I am firmly embedded in the belief of fire and water. They have my full devotion and absolute respect!

That was pretty spectacular. Nature can do that too. ‘check!’

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