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Clinging to Mother Earth or Exploding to the Stars—the Writing Option

CLINGING TO MOTHER EARTH OR EXPLODING TO THE STARS—THE WRITING OPTION
April—Busy Month for IWSGers and A-to-Z Challenge Writers

East Island French Frigate Shoals atols and seamounts in Polynesian Pacific ocean, with levels rising

One WORD after another WORD after another WORD is POWER
Margaret Atwood

Somewhere amid Pacific Ring of Fire shaking last night—two Mag.6.2pointers in Aleutians & Solomons, Mag.5s in Baja and Peru—a mother Humpback whale with last year’s calf in tandem, swims into spouting distance of the black sand surfing beaches of Big Island, Hawai’i.

No seagulls, no hummingbirds, but Big Island has Hawai’ian Green sea turtles and…

She will not be disturbed. Neither will the pool of Hawaiian Green sea turtles doing swim relay within yards of a famous surfers’ beach.

The Hawai’ian chain has no native species of terrestrial reptiles or amphibians. But loads in the ocean.

On land lizards, geckos, salamanders and Coqui frogs were introduced—in contrast to marine reptiles—green-sea turtles and sea snakes—that are native. Offshore vast schools of whales, dolphin, orca roam. The Islands are pitstop and mating grounds for hundreds of Humpbacks every winter; babies returning to visit the following year.

Indigenous to the islands is Nene, the Hawai’ian goose and national bird, along with Hawaiian Monk Seal and Hoary Bat which live nowhere else. Geographic isolation has triggered their evolution here as endemic—wildlife not seen elsewhere. The absence of hummingbirds is striking—importing them is banned—but multicolor treecreepers and honeycreepers are vivid and acrobatic.

From Whales and Turtles to Lava and Myrtles
Tragic errors were made by colonial benefactors. An example is the 1883 effort to reduce (introduced species of) rats, mice and larger rodents by allowing predation by the Indian mongoose.

…and exultant fire turtles exploding from neighboring volcanoes in active flows

Hawaiian crow, Hawaiian goose, and other endemic birds of the archipelago have been lost to this predator. Unlike hedgehogs beloved of motorists in Britain, these spiny omnivores are illegal in Hawaii—where the mongoose—not a rodent but an (Herpestes) Ichneumon akin to a shrew—has taken over the territory. Original reason for importing Mongooses to the islands is not clear. They are famed for killing large snakes in India. Kipling made sure children read and made friends with Rikki-Tikki-Tavi in Jungle Book. There are feral cats, dogs, boar, goats. Miraculously, no rabbits.

Coqui frog—Eleutheradactylus coqui—can climb trees and serenades at night

And there are no snakes in Hawai’i. No monkeys either.

Indigenous wildlife groups guard the islands from ‘invasive species’ like the (right pic) onomatopoetically-named Coqui. I find his mating nighttime frogsqueak charming, and his consumption of mosquitoes a blessing; but he is considered a ‘pest’. Mosquitoes hitched a ride from Asia.

Unlike the inhabitants of Easter Island who cut and burned their own trees to extinction, Hawai’ian tradition has cherished and nurtured successive forests of a miracle hardwood—Ohi’a—itself under threat from within. Indigenous, multi-tasking, adaptable in elevation, from sealevel, jungle to volcano peak, it has served as lumber for sacred structures, roof-tiles, fencing and fuel. Its flower is the Lehua, below.

Sacred Carving, Weaponry and Ritual
Volcano goddess Pele became jealous because she asked the handsome warrior Ohi’a to be her consort and he refused, saying he already had a lover, Lehua. In her anger Pele changed Ohi’a into a gnarled and twisted tree. Lehua was heartbroken, as she and Ohi’a were inseparable. The gods took pity on her and turned her into a flower on the tree.

Sacred Hawai’ian hardwood Ohi’a tree with red Lehua pompom blossom, unique in creating its own subsoil on fresh lava, is under threat from within

Ohi’a hardwood was used for canoe decking and seats; for house building, cooking bowls, poi/pounding boards (traditionally beaten with a volcanic basalt pestle), furniture, spears and tools. The Lehua flowers and buds are used for ritual lei-making.

Folklore has it that if you pick the sacred flower, separating her from her tree lover, it will rain.

The tree grows in crazy places—tolerating a range of soil conditions, rainfall and temperature. At sealevel, in jungle, marshes and rainforest, all the way up to the treeline at 8,200feet on Mauna Loa—the world’s highest stratovolcano—twice the height of Mile-High Denver. There it forms a straggly succulent creeping plant, beloved of bees, unique in burrowing into fresh lava, establishing its own compost, root tendrils breaking down subsoil, creating new ecosystems.

In May 2018 lava emerging from under the cinder cone of Pu’u O’o several miles east of Pele’s Mauna Loa and Kilauea, completely submerged Leilani township in fresh basalt. The human residents left. But almost twelve months later the magic myrtle Ohi’a-Lehua has found cracks, created a new existence where nothing else could.

What do these ocean creatures and spirits have to do with writing, you may ask. Our fearless starcruiser Cap’n.Alex and #AtoZ Challenge Chief Arlee Bird might be busy bloghopping, but I think they’d agree—all of us—writers or readers—are going to be affected fairly soon by ocean rise, plastic absorption, mammal and fish death and by the need for clean water. I am the first 2nd.Lieut-in-writing to applaud their tenacity in reaching for the stars. Writers Rulez forever!

Thing about crises on a planetary scale, we writers-bloggers-A-to-Zers mostly just thank our stars we’re still breathing, turn back to the keyboard and…
Write on.
©2019 Marian Youngblood

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April 3, 2019 Posted by | authors, blogging, calendar customs, culture, earth changes, environment, fiction, nature, novel, ocean, popular, publishing, rain, seasonal, weather, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Volcanoes Can Be Friendly Neighbors

VOLCANIC GODDESS PELE IN CHARGE OF ISLAND

Natural road surfacing with new lava—Leilani Estates road gets another topping over weekend

A Shield Volcano as a Friend
Kilauea, in the southeastern part of Hawaii’s Big Island, is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. The sacred mountain—domain of fire and lightning goddess Pele—has been erupting on and off for hundreds of years—possibly thousands.

This particular episode, fueled by accompanying earthquakes and aftershocks, began late Thursday afternoon in Leilani Estates, a subdivision near the small town of Pahoa, a 30-minute drive south of Hilo.

Why is Kilauea Erupting Now?

Kilauea sends volcanic messages

“We don’t know enough detail about her internal plumbing to give really good answers to this question. The short answer is that a blob of new magma from deep below the volcano got injected up into the volcanic edifice.
“That, combined with Kilauea’s instability, has allowed the magma to erupt near Leilani Estates”
Tracy Gregg, Associate Professor of Geology University of Buffalo

Big Island Hawaii’s Kilauea has been erupting continuously for more than thirty years, but new background activity flared up significantly last week after a series of powerful earthquakes—Mag.6.9 and Mag.7.0—struck the island.

A dozen new volcanic fissures have since opened up on Kilauea’s flanks, and the combination of flowing lava and noxious sulphur and methane gas necessitated the evacuation of 1,500 residents.

USGS volcanologists had been monitoring the volcano’s southeast flank for months before last Thursday’s eruption, aware of its instability. “It will fall into the ocean someday,” said U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall.

How Long will This Episode Last?

Kilauea’s Pu’u O’o caldera erupting May 7th 2018, peppering Big Island, Hawaii’s SE coast with lava fissures

As one side of the mountain slowly tears itself away from the rest of the volcano, it creates an easy subterranean pathway for the magma—underground lava—to travel along.

“There’s more magma in the system still to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, this eruption will continue,” she said.

As lava oozes down steep slopes, it often breaks apart into a billowing avalanche of hot rock and gas, called a pyroclastic flow. Pyroclastic flows destroy anything in their path.

Lava flows have damaged areas around Kilauea for decades. Flows destroyed a visitor center at Kilauea in 1989 and overran the village of Kalapana on the volcano’s southeast flank in 1991.

Current residents of Leilani Estates have been evacuated, but allowed to return, while local agencies continue to monitor the furnace.

As lava inundates the heavily forested area outside Hilo, organic matter burns and releases methane. “That methane gas can get trapped in pockets beneath lava flows or underground and explode violently, throwing rocks and debris in every direction” said Ms. Stovall.

Fire Goddess Pele in Charge

Big island Hawaii’s SE coast lies within the precipitous lava field of Kilauea—currently erupting

Kilauea has been erupting continuously since 1983 and is considered among the top ten world’s most active volcanoes. In 2014 lava burned a house and overran the local cemetery in Pahoa, but this flow chose to stall outside the town this time, and has not crossed the road.

Eruptions of lava fountains continued through last week, leading geologists to prepare for further activity. “Because lava on Sunday was flowing farther than it did in the first days of the eruption, that means the magma supply is still present and shows signs of continuing”.

Flows are still moving quite slowly. USGS scientists were able to walk away from hot lava deposits fairly quickly. So far ten vents have developed within a 20-miles radius, and new fissures are expected.

Kilauea is a shield volcano—broad and domed with ten-mile wide sloping sides made up of liquid, gas-poor lava that does not explode. That contrasts sharply with a stratovolcano, such as Mount St. Helens, whose eruptions are made up of thick, sticky, gas-rich lava that explodes, creating ash.

Legend tells that goddess Pele journeyed in her canoe from the island of Tahiti to Hawaii. She tried to create her fires on different islands, but her sister, Namaka, was chasing her, trying to kill her. The two sisters fought and Pele was killed.

Hawaiians believe her body was destroyed, but her spirit lives on in the Halemaumau crater on Kilauea. “Her body is the lava and steam that comes from the volcano.”

She can also change form, appearing as a white dog, old woman, or beautiful young woman.

In addition to being goddess of volcanoes, Pele is known for her power, passion, jealousy, and capriciousness. She has multiple siblings, including Kāne Milohai, Kamohoaliʻi, Nāmaka and other sisters called Hiʻiaka—most famous being Hiʻiakaikapoliopele—Hiʻiaka in the bosom of Pele. Hawaiian mythology calls them to be the offspring of Haumea. Pele’s siblings include deities of various types of wind, rain, fire, ocean wave forms, and cloud forms. Her home is believed to be the fire pit called Halemaʻumaʻu crater, at the summit caldera of Kīlauea. Her domain encompasses the whole volcanic field on Big Island.

Agencies, emergency services and first responders are active, continuing to keep the public safe, schools open. Local residents who have experienced lava episodes before, are patiently waiting for Pele, goddess of fire, wind and volcanoes, to give the Big Island a break.

Bless you Pele—and Hi’iakapoliopele, in your bosom. We’re believers.
©2018 Marian Youngblood

May 11, 2018 Posted by | ancient rites, belief, crystalline, culture, earth changes, energy, environment, nature, sacred sites, seismic, traditions, volcanic | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments