An interview with Pele, volcano goddess

The Hawaiian Islands’ own Pele, Goddess of Volcanoes, Fire, Wind, Lightning and Mai Tai Hangovers, recently granted this reporter an interview at her residence, the Kilauea Volcano. We conducted the interview near the rim. From a warm rock.

“Ms. Pele! Are you down there? Gosh, it’s toasty around here.”

“Aloha!”

“Pele, your Highness! Did you just say ‘Aloha’?”

“Yes, aloha is everywhere. And you’re from Michigan.”

“Yes I am. How did you know that?”

“I’m a goddess. I know things. Not everything, mind you. I’m not like the Big Guy, but I’ve been around for a billion years.”

“Amazing. So, may I ask how you learn things?”

“Well, we gods don’t give away our secrets, but one way I learn is by listening to visitors who are scorching their Nikes on my rim. Tourists talk a lot. Not so much the guys, of course, but …”

“So, Your Highness, do you only stay here or do you have other hot spots?”

“Ha! Hot spots! I get it. You’re a funny guy. I like you.”

“I’m kind of glad you like me.”

“Why’s that?”

“You could incinerate me.”

“Yes, but I mostly gave that up after the Mount Vesuvius event. Never should have lost my temper there.”

“Ah, so you get around. Are you part of all volcanic activity around the world?”

“Oh no, not all of it. The Vesuvius incident was on a Mediterranean trip with my cousin.”

“Your cousin?”

“Yes, cousin Thor. There we were. We got into it, arguing about who was stronger. He got all hot and blew up. I landed on my ash and blew out of town.”

“Nasty. Do you have more cousins?”

“Yes, lots of cousins. Like Mahana. He created a few islands, like the one you call Easter Island. He was roaming around the Pacific, got sick and threw up. That’s Easter Island.”

“Threw up? Amazing.”

“That’s nothing. Cousin Vulcan was in Washington state a few decades ago and while napping at Mount St. Helens she accidentally sneezed. Not good. Tragic actually, but that’s part of what makes up a volcano goddess. Lava happens.”

“So tell me, Goddess Pele, tell me about Kauai?”

“Ahh, the good stuff. I’m glad you asked, that was my best work. A gorgeous place and nobody got hurt. Kauai is pretty cool, eh?”

“Yes it is, but, surprising to hear you use the word ‘cool.’”

“Ha! I guess so. Well, I must get back to work. The Big Guy wants me to add a few hundred acres here and …”

The Big Guy? You mentioned him before. Who’s that?”

“Well, you know, the Big Kahuna? Our boss. Where the buck stops, that sort of thing. Actually, I can’t say anymore. He likes to be mysterious and I could get into hot water. Ha! I said ‘hot water!’ I can be funny too. So, he’s got a real estate deal going and he claims he’s going to need more land in a few hundred years.”

“Real estate? That’s strange.”

“Not really. It’s a timeshare thing, this is Hawaii. Need I say more?”

“Oh, guess not. Well, a real honor to talk with you. Mahalo for your time.”

“Better move. I feel a sneeze coming on.”

•••

Roger Lepley is a visitor to Kauai and president of the Consort Display Group in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

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