Rivulets of Fire, Hawaii Part 1 | Eddie Grassi , Editor & Chief

September 29, 2022


“Look to your right.  Do you see it?”  It was impossible not to.   “Sir, that volcano is Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on earth,” he said with pride.  He was my Uber driver that unforgettable day.  In that moment though, he was an ambassador of deep earth.  The volcano went by slowly and dreamlike, as mighty majestic things will often do while in their company.  Meanwhile, up close, the vast valley of black lava– the volcano’s offspring, rolled by quickly.   We were surrounded by lava fields. Total and final was the lava’s claim to this land.   For a minute, I saw the road we were on as an intruder that had somehow hacked its way through the impossible layers of lava underneath.   But this was no time for worry.

I looked ahead in reverence at a sea of infinite black lava.  Once upon a time, it was a hot moving liquid, an ancient meandering mass.  Now it was transformed into something at times rough, cracked, at other times smooth, flat.   The terrain played tricks on me.  But I liked the game.  There was something profoundly simple yet deeply complex.  The predictability of the rolling hills of rock or the uniformity of the blackness was one thing.   Then there was the unpredictability, the lone goat my kids found as it flashed by off the road.  There were mirages everywhere too.  I found my eye searching to find some hidden master plan behind the twisted forms and shapes that arose.   How was it this volcano could give rise to such mysterious beauty?  I wanted to not miss a thing, to see what lay on the other side of forlorn hill, touch the heat of rock, hold a beetle in my hand.

Strange that I didn’t want for this to end.   There was unfinished work here for me, what exactly I could not dream.  I saw a blanket of smooth lava flat one second, a rocky crag the next.   Inviting is probably not the first word to come to mind.  The seeing however was not enough.   I wanted to get out and walk it, be more than a spectator.  I could see myself walking in the distance, over this spire once formed of fire, along this flat bed, where fire like water pooled.  My imagination roamed wild in this world of the concrete and tangible.

Okay, reality check: we were heading toward Waikoloa to snorkel.  Waikoloa is a beautiful coastal city of Kona on the big island of Hawaii and home to the Waikoloa Beach Resort.   My daughter, Madeline, and son Ethan, sat in the backseat of the car taking in the sights like a couple of cherubs.  Their presence during my reverie was always felt.

As I look back the will of the lava could not be stopped.  Nor could time.  The mirage of heat off of the road retreated as we turned off the main highway down a narrow road leading through tall palm trees and eventually to Waikoloa beach.  The fields of the jet black rock would soon be replaced by fine white sand and an ocean blue.  The lava had a life all its own however.   In fact, a slow rebellion of life spawned from ashes had already sprung up.  Daring bushes, carefree weeds and even some bold but feeble trees had broken through at random openings.  As the landscape receded behind us, I felt young again, even against this ageless backdrop.

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Shalini Kaushik
Shalini Kaushik
1 year ago

Wow sounds so exciting. Would love to go there!!

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