Friday, March 25, 2011

Madame Pele’s Handiwork…

“She is Pele-honua-mea, Pele of the Sacred Land...

She is Pele-‘ai’houna, Pele the eater of land, when she devours the land with her flames...

She who rules the volcanoes of Hawai’i; and Mankind has no power to resist her...

When Pele is heard from, her word is the final word.”

My mother lived in Hawaii for about 5 years. I used to spend a month every winter with her, and I always had a great time.  On my visit in 1976 she was living in Hilo on the Big Island.  I love the Big Island.  It is so diverse! You can be swimming on the beaches in the morning and snow skiing in the afternoon. 

It was fun driving around the island, walking thru lava tubes, playing in the various waterfalls, visiting The Star of the Sea Painted Church in the town of Kalapana...

...and especially seeing the Black Sands Beach.  The town and beach is now under 60 feet of lava flows; but they moved the church to a safe location in 1990 after lava flows came close to destroying it.

It was on this very beach that I encountered Madame Pele. 

She is a jealous goddess and very protective of her handiwork.  I did not know this.  We were having a picnic and I was playing with Eric in the sand when I found a piece of lava rock. I said, "Oh, mom, this is so pretty! I'm going to take it home!" Mom laughed at me! But she let me take it with us anyhow.

The next day I was with my younger brother, John, in the lagoon outside the apartment.  There was a brackish water pond rimmed with lava that was just perfect to swim in! Standing on the edge, I jumped in.  Miscalculating how far out to jump, I ended up shredding my back and my bathing suit on the lava rock.  Ouch!!! Dragging myself out of the pond, I was walking along the edge trying to get back to the apartment.  I slipped and fell into the water, hitting my cheekbone on a rock just under the surface of the water. Now, not only was my back shredded and bleeding, I also was getting a black eye! I had only been there a week and I looked like a wreck!  When I finally got back to the apartment Mom asked if I wanted to return my lava rock. No! why would I?

The following week we decided to go to the Kona Coast and stay the weekend at the new King Kamehameha Hotel.  Packed up the car and headed over the Saddleback Highway to our destination. It was so much fun to visit Parker Ranch where they raise some of the best beef you have ever eaten, see where they grow Kona Coffee, and all the beautiful bougainvilla in bloom! What a great weekend!  We headed home in the middle of the afternoon, going the long way around the island.  It was a two lane highway and there was no one on it!  Suddenly the car was making funny noises and heating up; and then it happened - the car engine "come all crack up!"  We were stuck on the side of the road with no help in sight and no way to contact anyone.  Fortunately a volunteer fireman on his way home passed us. We must have looked really pathetic standing by this little Mazda with the smoking engine.  He took pity on us and gave us a ride back into Hilo

The next day I said, "Mom, can we go back to Kalapana so I can return Madame Pele's handiwork?"  And off we went for one last picnic at the Black Sands Beach. I apologized to Madame Pele as I returned her rock.

What did I learn from all of this?  Madame Pele does not like her handiwork messed with. If you want to appease her you should buy a bottle of gin, go to the edge of Kileauea and toss it in.  If, for some reason, you cannot get to the crater you can simply leave an open can of beer on a lava rock along the highway.  Hopefully the Menehune will not drink it before Madame Pele gets to enjoy it. 

So when you get to Hawaii please enjoy the scenery. But leave it where you find it. You do not want to incur Madame Pele's wrath. Trust me.

"E ola mau, e Pele e! 'Eli'eli kau mai!” Long life to you, Pele!

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