It’s 7am and the Bearded One and I sit together in silence at our little card table. I sip Mango Maui tea, he reads the newspaper. Raindrops plop and bong the metal roof overhead, doves coo through the screens.
One of the things I love about our new life here in Hawaii is going to bed together and getting up roughly around the same time. This happens because we have had no steady source of electricity, and when it’s dark the day is over. But it’s also because we have no TV, which the Bearded One misses, especially the football, but he’s otherwise enjoying and adjusting to the TV-free life. He doesn’t want one around. Me, neither.
I lean over and see a sun in the weather box on the front page, along with the latest on the lava flow. We need sunshine today because Tom is coming with the final final final part to make the sun, not our generator, power the batteries. Our solar installation and Madame Pele each have their own unknown temperament and timing and neither can be rushed or predicted worth a hoot.
The rain picks up and I stand, stretch, and walk to the kitchen for more tea. Jeffrey the Gecko hunts in the window over the sink. He looks at me and licks his lips. “Good morning, Jeffrey,” I say.
When I return, the Bearded One has fetched his boombox, an ancient Sony CD Radio Cassette-corder that he used to crank up for the goats in the barn back in Washington. Now it is our sole electronic entertainment.
We are a Norman Rockwell painting from the late 1950s as we huddle around the radio and listen to Garrison Keillor on Saturday nights.
The Bearded One is switching through radio stations.
“A warm, loving God…election fears…referendum in the Crimea…Love, it’s what makes Subaru a Subaru.”
And then, subdued and serene, “This is NPR News…Lava has been flowing toward the small town of Pahoa on Hawaii’s Big Island since June and is oozing closer to dozens of homes. Renee Montagne speaks to Hawaii Public Radio’s Molly Solomon about the eruption and how prepared residents are.”
The Bearded One turns up the volume. Official, worldly reporters are a few miles away in Pahoa, hunting for stories. We are on international news.
We listen as if we lived in Australia. We hear about residents who are still around after the weeks of waiting, how they have most of their belongings in storage now and will move when the lava actually flows into their yards. Watching the actual destruction will bring some closure, they say. It’s nature and this is a 30 year ongoing flow that’s already covered up 50 square miles down in Kalapana and is now branching out. We live on an active volcano, after all.
One resident calls it “surreal, a slow-motion disaster, a lava glacier,” another talks about how it “makes people aware of their community and who they live around.” One mother says her kids ask every day, “Is the lava coming?” and today she told them, “Yeah, it’s here.”
As we listen, we smell the sulfur smoke through the rain, since the wind is coming from the south.
“That’s reporter Molly Solomon with Hawaii Public Radio, who’s watching the lava flow heading towards the town of Pahoa. Thanks very much.”
Goodbye, international spotlight, I think.
The Bearded One picks up the boombox, sets it in his lap, and switches stations. I’m antsy. The rain still falls, and it’s looking less and less like a solar work day. We have a few more quiet hours before we need to start the generator.
“I – Love – Rock-and-Roll,” blasts from the boombox. Joan Jett growls and grinds out the girl beat, and I hop up and start singing and dancing.
Time to let off a little steam. The Bearded One rocks back and forth with the boombox in his lap.
Then it’s over, and the Bearded One lowers the volume. The rain drops continue bonging the roof, it’s another day in Hawaii, and I sit back down and finish my tea.