I am worried about my friends in Hawai’i. The current lava flow from Kilauea volcano is headed straight for their homes.
While conducting research for my newest book, “Rainbows On the Moon,” I was invited by friends to stay at their home in the beautiful Puna District on the Big Island of Hawai’i where I enjoyed their hospitality and that of their friends who live near the picturesque town of Pahoa.
As the volcano figures largely in one chapter of “Rainbows On the Moon,” I explored the region in detail. I had the good fortune of being shown around the volcanic area with people who know the terrain well, and the history of the lava flows. I experienced the thrill of standing on the edge of an actual lava flow, was mesmerized by the color and heat and the way it boiled the ocean as it flowed into the sea. And of course, I included such an event in the story of my 19th century characters in “Rainbows On the Moon.”
But now, fiction is becoming reality as a scene that I wrote in the book has come to life. Lava has been flowing continuously from Kilauea since 1983, but the latest event is sending the destructive lava straight toward my friends’ property. Just as my fictional characters had to flee from such force of nature, there is nothing my friends can do to save their homes.
“Rainbows On the Moon” takes place in the 1860’s when Kilauea was particularly active. But now, a hundred and fifty years later, despite all our modern technology, we are still helpless in the face of such wrath, which native Hawai’ians attribute to the volcano goddess Pele.
Now, as I am glued to the news because my friends’ homes are in the path of a new, deadly flow, I think about how, nearly two hundred years ago, Christian missionaries went to Hawai’i with the intention of “civilizing the people and taming the islands.” They gave Hawai’ians the Bible and the muu-muu, outlawed surfing and the hula. But I doubt somehow that the goddess Pele can ever be tamed.