Regrowth in Lava

Mid-November, 2018

 

Four months after the lava ceased flowing, I walked over the narrowest part of the River of Lava which is several miles east of our farm. As I carefully tapped my way across the hardened lava, I noted signs of regrowth.  The trees burned and pushed over by the force of the lava would not grow back, but seeds and spore already were growing.

 


 

Mid-May, 2019

 

At last, we are granted access to the property.   After completing and signing extensive waivers, we are allowed to drive across the PVG (geothermal energy) property and other  private gravel and cinder lanes to reach the farm. It’s been 50 weeks since the lava flow started and 63 weeks since it ended.  The dense mass of small trees, big-leaf weeds and cane grass is astonishing and intimidating.  If we can’t cut it back, seeds will spread and increase the dense underbrush.

 

 

Living the Dream on Hawai’i Island

The Lava has come and gone, as it has for millions of years. Some folks are heading back to the mainland or Alaska after losing their homes to the will of Pele, goddess of lava. Many farm families shrug off the inconvenience of access roads to markets that are still blocked by lava.  They continue planting and harvesting, bringing papayas and avocados, rambutan and coconuts to the farmer’s markets. Everyone in the farming community hopes the local authorities will rebuild all major roads instead of routing dump-trucks, short-bed trucks and cars along narrow forest tracks better suited for bicycles and pedestrians. Surely, the roads will be repaired as in other disaster areas in the United States. Change is part of life; everyone copes.

People still dream of living on this mostly rural island and they are snapping up property. The Island of Hawai’i attracts newcomers and people from other parts of the state because of its relatively lower cost of living compared to Honolulu and Oahu. Puna, the southern district on Hawai’i Island affected by the 2018 lava flow, is said to be one of the fastest growing area on Big Island. The skies are clear again, the lava gone, quakes finished and the living is easy.

Some families are leaving the island, selling their dream houses and businesses.  Others changed their lifestyle and moved closer to Hilo, trading fire ants for fine arts.

One friend is headed back to Europe.  She is selling her gorgeous one acre estate with splendid house and many ornamental trees, notably a mature Bismarckia palm.

Bismarckia nobilis is a slow-growing majestic tree named for the first chancellor of the German Empire Otto von Bismarck. The is particularly poignant to me because with considerable effort, I dug the hole for my own small Bismarckia palm a few years ago. The space needed for my young palm and its bulbous root system was about 61 cm (24 inches) deep by 61 cm across which I excavated through dense lava rock from the 1955 lava flow.

Bismarkia nobilis

Alas, my Bismarckia perished in 2018 because of poisoned air during the lava inundation.  Lava didn’t smother or burn it, the noxious VOG , a by-product of the eruption, killed the palms, ornamentals and other trees.

A few photos of my friend’s piece of paradise are below and the listing is here.  I wish I had the resources to buy her house with the thriving Bismarckia nobilis in view of the lanai.

 

House and palmsBismarckia nobilis from lanaiBismarckia from bath

 

 

Alien Weeds

Patterson Clark shared his harvesting and art making processes at the Annual Meeting of the Audubon Naturalist Society last week at Woodend Sanctuary in Chevy Chase, Maryland.

I admire his dedication and inventiveness.  Take a look at his brilliant art made of weed pulp paper and essence of weed ink, plus a ferocious amount of creative energy.

In my own quest to help native plants, I  usually pull Lonicera japonica out of the trees or bushes it is choking and weave  the vines into baskets.

Lonicera japonica aka honeysuckle.

More information:

Urban Jungle column in Washington Post

Invasive  Plant Species in the Mid-Atlantic – National Park Service