Memories for Miriam, Alice, Theo, Delia, Tessa
and anyone else who would like to be here
Miriam's favorite color is black. She has a new black shirt and skirt.
Miriam was wearing another favorite that has black in it. She was showing me this puppet while Alice was bouncing on the trampoline in the basement.
When we visited Miriam and Alice this weekend, Alice helped me dry the dishes. The dishwasher is broken, so we were doing everything by hand.
Once two chiefs lived near the volcano in Hawaii. Their land was called Kahuku.
Now their land is under huge fields of lava, but long ago, there were trees and fields there. The two chiefs were very good at many sports -- especially racing holua lava sleds and racing on nearby lava slopes. Women and men both used the long sleds on runners to go down the hillsides. The best of them could get up a little bit and a few of them could stand up and ride the sled the way people now ride a surfboard.
Pele loved this sport. One day she came to the sledding races. She looked like an ordinary, though beautiful woman. No one recognized her. She was better at lava sledding than any of the women in the land. The two chiefs said "Race with us. We are the best. You can't go faster than we can!"
The more they raced, the more they wanted to win, but Pele almost always was first. The two men began to suspect that this was not an ordinary woman. They were beginning to be afraid. But Pele kept insisting on more racing.
Soon the grass began to die. The ground shook a little bit: an earthquake tells people on Hawaii that the volcano might be showing some activity. The two chiefs' fear made Pele angry. They saw the beautiful woman changing her form.
Her hair began to float out away from her head as hot wind blew around her. Her arms and legs began to glow slightly, as if they were very hot. Her eyes flashed. She seemed to have lightening bolts in her eyes. They caught sight of her magic apron with lightening bolts around her waist.
The chiefs were more afraid than ever. They began to run down the hill. When she saw them running, Pele began to stamp her feet. The ground shook. Red-hot lava began to flow from beneath her feet. Pele got on top of the lava and rode her holua sled like a surf board, standing tall, her hair streaming back in flames.
The chiefs rushed towards the beach, hoping to get to their canoe. Once they were in the water, Pele couldn't harm them. Pele's lava came down to the beach and clouds of steam rose up from the waves. As the first chief ran towards his canoe, she threw her arms around him and gave him a huge hot hug. He turned into a big lava boulder. The same thing happened to the second chief.
For many years, the people of the island called two real lava boulders "the hills of Pele." They explained these rocks by telling this story. Finally, though, another lava eruption made them disappear.
Another time, a chief boasted that he could surf better than Pele. She made a big wave on her crater of boiling lava. Her special volcano fairy spirits made the wave just like an ocean wave. The chief began to ride the wave. His surfboard began to smoke and burn. Soon, Pele was so angry that she told the fairy spirits to make the wave break, and he fell into the hot lava. This is Pele's meanest story of all.
The picture shows the lava flowing on November 4, 2007, a few days ago. It came from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory
website, where there are new photos all the time showing the lava that's new.
This story is based on a legend in the book Hawaiian Legends of Volcanoes
by William D. Westervelt. For now, this story is too mean
, and Alice and Miriam will read it later. But I will put more Pele stories for them to read soon.
Miriam and Alice are asking for more stories about Pele. They know one story about how Pele came to the volcanic island of Hawaii with her little sister, and how she decided to eat Ohelo berries. This is a different story.
In this story, Pele starts out as an ordinary person, and later becomes the goddess of the volcano. At the beginning of the story, she lived in a house like the one in the picture (which we saw at a park in Hawaii). Her brothers made canoes like the man in the picture is making.
Kamapuaa, the god who changes his shape is also in this story. He can change himself into a fish -- the humuhumunukunukuapuaa. He can change himself into a boar (also called a pig or a hog). At the beginning of the story, Kamapuaa looks like a man. He is a very successful warrior and he is a leader of other warriors. They have defeated many tribes on the island of Hawaii.
At the beginning of the story, Kamapuaa and his men go to the southeast tip of Hawaii, below the volcano. This place is called Puna. We were near this place when we visited the volcano last summer. The house where Pele and her brothers lived was in Puna.
When he gets to Puna, Kamapuaa meets Pele and her family. He thinks Pele is very beautiful. He asks her to marry him. Pele and her brothers say "No, Pele won't marry you. You look like a hog. You have hog bristles on your back."
This made Kamapuaa very mad. He brought his warriors to attack Pele's family and her whole village. They all ran away from their houses in the middle of the night while Kamapuaa and his men were asleep. Kamapuaa and the men had to sleep on top of hard lava, like we saw in this picture.
Meanwhile, Pele and her family hid in a cave that they knew about in another part of Puna. Alice and Miriam might remember that lava flowing down from the volcano makes many caves. We even walked through one in the National Park (see photo).
Pele and her family thought they would be safe in the very big cave. The cave had a small opening in front, but it went far back into the black lava rock, into the side of the mountain. No one knew where the other end of the cave was, but they knew there was an opening because air came rushing through the cave. When they built a fire in the cave, the smoke blew out the front door.
In the cave, they put down their sleeping mats and their food. They rolled some big rocks into the front opening, and set up spears to keep the attackers away. Soon Kamapuaa and his men began to attack. Pele's brothers and the other men with them threw spears out the narrow opening. They were keeping the attackers away. Once Kamapuaa got too close and Pele's brother wounded him with a spear.
Kamapuaa decided they would make a fire and the smoke would drive Pele and her family out of the cave. The fire roared around the big rocks at the entry to the cave, but the smoke blew right out again because of the vent in the back. Pele's family had thought of this! The front part of the cave was hot, but they knew how to go back to cooler parts of the cave where they could be comfortable.
Next the boar god and his men decided to try to make a big hole above the cave, digging down so that they would come into the far end of the cave. As they dug, they heard a huge noise. They saw lava starting to flow out of a lava vent above the hole they were digging. They ran as fast as they could and got into their canoes. They paddled away to the other islands.
Lava flowed all around. The cave was full of lava. But Pele and her brothers became the goddess and gods of the volcano. Now Pele can make lava flow whenever she is angry. Sometimes people still see the beautiful young girl who refused to marry a man who could turn into a boar or into a fish. Sometimes she has flames for hair and is very frightening, sometimes she is warm and kind. Sometimes she is old instead of young. Pele isn't a person any more: she's a goddess. At least that's how this story ends.
In old Hawaii, people made temples where they worshiped the goddess Pele and other gods and goddesses. In the picture at the left is a platform where one of the temples once stood. It is called a heiau.
Even now, people leave flowers and candy or crackers for Pele. The picture at right shows a rock near the volcano crater where people put these things for Pele. They used to throw them into the pools of hot lava, but this year, the lava is very far from the road and you can't get there.I based this story on a tale in the book The Legends and Myths of Hawaii, which was written long ago, in 1888, by King David Kalakaua, who was really the king of Hawaii.