A Changing Landscape

A tale of two lava lakes, of a landscape altered in way so dramatic it is hard to comprehend.

We think of solid rock being the ultimate in permanency, something about the world that should never change, at least in the span of a few months. Geologic change takes thousands of years, not less than one, it just seems wrong when this rule is violated.

Places we once stood, or parked a car, a hiking trail across a plain of solid rock… All gone in a dramatic upheaval. A parking lot the lies upon a block of rock the size of a supertanker, sitting hundreds of feet below where I once parked the car. Change is the reality of an active volcano.

The glow from a lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu lights the clouds prior to the May 2018 eruptions
The glow from a lava lake in Halemaʻumaʻu lights the clouds prior to the May 2018 eruptions

I have seen change on this scale once before when Mt. St. Helens removed a mountain top that stood upon the horizon of childhood memory. Here at Kilauea the change was a bit slower, but no less dramatic.

I look across that caldera and note the places that are the same, the places that are gone. I may understand what has happened and how, but still some parts of my mind insist that this just cannot be true… Solid rock should not disappear or crumble like a cookie.

The glowing pit of Halemaʻumaʻu with the new lava lake
The glowing pit of Halemaʻumaʻu with the new lava lake

The return of lava to the crater seems like a return of normalcy. There was lava here for years, there should be lava here. Perhaps the lava will cover over that yawning pit that should not be. Fill the yawning chasm that affronts my senses so.

Visiting the New Lake

The lava burst forth from the crater wall just before Christmas. After two years of quiet the volcano has again erupted. Within hours the lake of water that had been slowly growing had been boiled away in a huge plume of steam.

Gazing into creation at Kilauea Caldera
Gazing into creation at Kilauea Caldera with the stars of Crux and Alpha Centauri above

I knew within minutes that an eruption had begun, tapped into the island grapevine. While I considered making a midnight run across island I had to bow to the needs of life and regretfully went to bed.

Now well into the new year I finally had a chance to photograph the new lava lake.

Continue reading “Visiting the New Lake”

A Conjunction Moon

I rolled the telescope out of the garage to view and photograph the conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn. It is impressive to see the two gas giants side by side like that. The photos were less of a success, with soft seeing they are not great. OK, the photos suck.

The Moon was a different story, high in the sky the seeing was much better. Since I had the camera on the telescope I shot a few photos of the first quarter Moon.

Look closely along the terminator and you can find the Lunar X, the V, and the Vallis Alpes…

Conjunction Moon
The Moon at first quarter on Dec 21, 2020

Greeting a New Year

We are now in the year 2021 by the Gregorian calendar used for much of the world. The celebrations are done, with the scars left by fireworks in our street now fading. We look forward to another year after the the stressful and destructive times of the last twelve months, a year that will loom large in memory for the remainder of our lives.

Point Retreat Lighthouse on the north end of Admiralty Island, Alaska
Point Retreat Lighthouse on the north end of Admiralty Island, Alaska

While the calendar now reads 2021, somehow 2020 seems to drag on. I feel that the remnants of 2020 will not truly be gone until January 20th, and maybe not even then. Perhaps later in the spring when vaccination programs end the viral rampage through our communities.

As we rebuild our lives and try to recover some sense of normality we might look back and try to understand the lessons taught by the year 2020. These lessons are both small and personal or large enough to threaten the foundations of our civilization. We have seen into ourselves and into those around us, the true nature of so much revealed by stress and argument.

Will these lessons be learned? Will things change? While we might be able to change ourselves for the better more easily than we can change our country, both need to be done.

While we plan for the coming year and move forward we rely on experience, something that 2020 was rich in. May you live in interesting times… The old curse that seems so applicable to the moment.

Big White

Got her.

Feral Pig
Another feral pig hauled out of the back yard.

This pig was one of the two I am trying to catch, all that remains of the original eight in the group. One big white pig and one young black, they have evaded my trap for over a month, sometimes stopping by, but hesitating to step into the wire cage.

A bit of a surprise… Contrary to my assumption big white was female.

While she had been quite shy of going into the trap, a bait tray loaded with banana peels, pineapple scraps, and sweet potato peelings had proven irresistible. The trap slammed shut just after 4am. Lightly dozing I heard the plywood door drop and knew immediately that I had caught another pig. Oddly this pig was silent, no squealing to wake the neighbors.

This time I had help loading the pig, my parents are visiting for the holiday. Trapping and handling a feral pig is another story to tell when they get back home.

There is only one pig left of this pack, a mid-sized black that is the last of the litter mates. He was hanging around when we removed the older female this morning, is still hanging out in the area. Got the trap right back into position and baited in case.