Saturday, July 20, 2013

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Halemaumau Crater <---great Wikipedia link! After our morning in Hilo, filling up on lychee, climbing up and into banyan trees, we went west. West to Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. I don't know if we have a more dynamic National Park to enjoy both creation, and geologic destruction. The grand and the minute, the forces that erode and the elements determined to rebuild are at work, together in one place. It gives perspective about Earth, about the huge forces at work, and yet it's hard to maintain a perspective, to appreciate the entire scale and ratios... between ourselves and the spaces we saw, the distances we covered. Inevitably I feel small here. We have power, we have understanding of nature, but on this level, where the earth is belching out new land, we are only witnesses. And here, it is best to be a cautious, respectful witness.

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park offers visitors a phenomenal opportunity to witness something ancient, and brand new in the making. "Volcanoes are monuments to Earth's origin, evidence that its primordial forces are still at work. During a volcanic eruption, we are reminded that our planet is an ever-changing environment whose basic processes are beyond human control. As much as we have altered the face of the Earth to suit our needs, we can only stand in awe before the power of an eruption."

It's a place for the scientist and the poet, both. You stand in awe of all you see, and want to know more, to get closer. Mark Twain was a visitor in 1866, and he wrote, "Here was room for the imagination to work." Indeed. There are interesting facts, and details, as evolving and changing as the volcanoes themselves.

Our own facts: we stayed for three days and two nights, we rented a home in the Village, we hiked Kilauea Iki Crater, and Nāhuku - Thurston Lava Tube. We baked brownies, from scratch. We walked, walked, walked, and we met all the neighborhood popoki. And we enjoyed a really wonderful lunch at Thai Thai... such a welcome treat.

Some of us went to see the activity of Halemaumau Crater, in the dark. We arrived before the sun, and despite the bracing wind, we enjoyed a fantastic view and impression. From deep within the Crater, the glow of flowing lava is stunning. Get any closer? No. Not a good idea... that cloud is a plume of sulphur dioxide. The ground is hot, steam vents, open crevices, earthquakes, and explosive episodes. I felt happy enough viewing from the relative safety of the Jaggar Museum.

Good morning.

Southward from the Jaggar, around the Crater Rim Drive we come to the Rim of the Kilauea Iki Crater... Little Kilauea Across the crater and in the center of the image you can see the plume from the Halemaumau Crater. Our plan: descend 400 feet into the Iki Crater, cross it and then hike back up and around the rim. Through fern forests, then across a Martian terrain!

A few feet in, and you are in another world. Remote, ancient, thick. William was overcome with explorer's awe. This was the beginning of his heightened interest in photography. He and Geoff discovered new camera apps for the iPhones, and from here out our adventures were captured in 3D, and panorama. William was happy, and eager to take in all he saw.

At the trail head, we started from the left side, down by the Thurston Lava Tube entrance. You cannot see the crater bottom until the last switchback in the trail, and suddenly ferns and ginger give way to a barren otherworldly terrain. It is a stunning vision. You are at the bottom of a volcanic bowl, once a lake of molten lava.

Down the center is the trail. It's gray, the lava is crushed from hikers passing over, and over. But step away and you see the untouched, crystalline surface of both lava types... Pahoehoe, a smoother and flowing surface, where a`a is sponge-like, but jagged.

Again, from the rim, you can see the gray and worn path across the crater, and maybe you can make out the two hikers walking from right to left of the image.

Back to the crater floor... life finds its way.

It's hard, even standing there, to comprehend the scale.

The moon, and the ohia lehua.

We talked about terraforming Mars. We talked about brownies. Lava fields inspire great thoughts.

The morning started out cool, and it even felt nice standing in front of active steam vents. Not too close... it will scald you, or worse.

As the sun rose, we had a cooling breeze to keep us comfortable.

Then we hike up and out of Kilauea Iki, back into rainforest, and views from the crater's rim.

Stunning views.

Back in Volcano Village, we enjoyed walks through the neighborhood, meeting local cats, all the beautiful flowers, and the hot lava sheet of brownies we were inspired to bake.

Maria asked to sign the guestbook for us. She put her heart into it.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chicas in the Teepee

Our bamboo teepee has sunflowers, beans, cucumbers and tomatoes growing up, and around it.  It looks inviting. Geoff gave it a protective skirt of hardware cloth all the way around the base.  Just high enough to keep out the wild rabbits that cruise our yard.  I realized it makes an ideal playpen for our chicas.  They are contained, and they like to dash beneath the shade and shelter of their garden world, feeling like grown-up free range chicas.  I enjoy a little peace of mind, because they're less likely to stray if I should happen to be distracted.  

This evening we released the Juniors into the teepee, and sat with the Chiquitas just outside the teepee.  Everyone happy, we sat back and delighted in the show.  Wing flapping.  Neck craning.  Leg stretching.  And endless pecking.  And buzzing around like wind up toys.  

The Juniors are bigger, but no less flighty and amusing.  Lilikoi and Koa watched, curiously, and seemed bemused by their Chiquita sisters.  

This, and pumpkin pie for dinner, too.  Haven't we had a wonderful evening?

Las Chiquitas

Introducing our littlest chicas, the Chiquitas. They are tiny balls of footed fluff. They hatched July 11th, and came home on the 15th. I've seen newly hatched chicks, and I still cannot imagine how tiny they must have been. In the foreground, and right behind her, are the two Ameraucanas. And the other four are Cuckoo Marans.

The cutestness of them is mind-blowing. We swoon. We sigh. We announce, at regular intervals, Come and see, they are being so cute!

Four of them look, effectively, the same. But, being a bit nuts, we are naturally, learning to distinguish them, and have even decided to name them. This will be interesting, if not mildly annoying. Chicks change. And. they. look. alike. We are so silly!

On the left: She is the tiniest, has not a sign of tail feathers, and has more white than her sisters. She is Liberty. She stands apart, then calls out. She is a speck bolder, more independent than her sisters, and I think of her July hatching, Independence Day, and liberty. Facing her is the largest chica, an Ameraucana, with eyeliner. Maria and Amira dubbed her Totoro.

Totoro is a friendly wood spirit, introduced in a Hayao Miyazaki film of the same name. Big name for such a chibi one!

Cute, and trusting, and breathtakingly beautiful. Their markings, their innocence, the funny and charming things they do... they are beautiful. This is the other little Ameraucana. She's dark, and spicy. Maybe she is a Masala. We'll see.


Shy Totoro~

The Cuckoo Maran with the almost star shaped patch on her head, who looks like the other one!

Our pretty, dark chica, with the spicy down.

She has the least amount of white feathers on her head, and the children have been calling her Soot-Sprite.

Like their big sisters, the Juniors, these Chiquitas took to the dirt with gusto, to scratching and pecking, like pros.

Soon, we'll see more distinctions. Their personalities and behaviors will name them, too. And, assuming there are no roosters... and there are always roosters... we'll get the naming sorted out. These days will pass too quickly. It's so much fun to indulge them, and keep company with them.

Of course they let us know when playtime is over, and a nice nap is in order. Back to their heat lamp, and cozy shelter they go.

{this moment}

A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment.
A moment I want to pause, savor and remember.

:: Inspired by Soule Mama ::

If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments, for all to find and see.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Our Junior Chicas

These are the ones I am calling the Juniors. They are chicks, but they are not the young puff-ball sized babies that are too adorable for words. Not within their earshot, of course, I have to say chicks quickly reach a stage best described as awkward. Also: ungainly, goofy, funny-looking, and in-between. They have some down. They have some feathers. They still have pip-cheep voices, and need tender care, but they are heartier. They are emerging.

Guess what...

Yup. Chicken butt. It's really hard to get a good picture. Well, not really "difficult." It takes patience, and a willingness to take a lot of pictures that don't work, like this one.

These three are easy to tell apart. And so it was easy to decide that we would name them, and the inspiration for their names? See if you can guess...

This golden darling is a Buff Oprington, and we are calling her Lilikoi.

This little beauty is named Koa. She is an Ameraucana.

Pele has been more elusive, camera shy. She, too, is an Ameraucana.

So, inspired by our trip, our three Junior chicas have Hawaiian names. And we really, really, sincerely hope they are each wahine-hens!

Our Silky-Bantam sisters, Little Debbie and Penny, were out for an evening stroll, too. So were Kamen, and Shebot.

I couldn't be sure the hens noticed the Juniors. But we were vigilant on this the first outing for our little chicas.

And the little chicas were as happy as chicks in the dirt. At first they were reluctant and uncertain. Maria and I played mother hens, even demonstrating ground scratching motions with our fingers. Little by little Lilikoi, Koa, and Pele darted out from their shelter. Then pecking began, followed by scratching. The grand moment came when Pele threw herself to the ground and gave herself a rigorous dust bath. How do they know? We've raised chicks from feed stores, and we've had hens hatch and raise their own. Mother hens teach their babes so much, and are very attentive. So, how do these little girls know what to do... never mind our "mothering?" It never ceases to amaze us. We passed a long and happy time watching them enjoy their outing.

And then something happened...

Penny sauntered in, and came face to face with the Juniors. After Penny's initial approach, everyone stood very still. And very calm. I don't think Kamen, or Shebot, would have been satisfied to have a friendly look. Those two are territorial and bossy. But Penny seemed merely curious.

And Lilikoi was curious, too. And everyone played nice.

Malcolm rabbit was a house rabbit in his former life, then he spent a long time at a shelter. Now he is a free ranging bunn, content and secure, and well acquainted with goats and chickens. He came forward, too.

He had such a quizzical expression... but Junior chicks, awkward looking as they are, do give one pause.
Don't worry, Malcolm, these Junior chicas have all the makings to grow into fine feathered hens. They'll be sweet tempered beauties, with all the smarts they'll need to live interesting lives.