Island Planet

Island Planet

We take turns straddling the crack in the ground. Primordial heat wafts skyward. "That's from the Earth?" Andy says.

"Yes," I say. The floor of the caldera looks like photos most people with access to media have seen of the moon's surface. Gray and broken and sharp, rock created by lava flows that oozed from this volcano makes the surface tricky. Called 'a'a, the name first used by the original inhabitants, this type of rock is everywhere on the Big Island of Hawai'i, especially here on Kilauea volcano. Andy leans over the crack and, at just the right moment, a shift in breeze sends a searing blast that scalds his cheek. I think that might stop him, but he is back at it again. He is a six-year-old, with a six-year-old's fascination for something unfathomable, and a six-year-old's tolerance for cold or heat or hunger when he has his mind on something. When the steam swirls around us, we look like superimposed, solid figures on an atmospheric photograph. I am decades older than Andy, but no less impressed. Hawai'i is a process in motion.

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