When Mommy Climbed the Volcano

Yes, this rock that you see right here is called volcanic rock, which means that it used to be lava until it cooled and hardened into rock. I got it from the top of a volcano. That’s right, your very own Mommy once climbed a volcano (it was asleep at the time) and brought back this rock just for you.

Sit up, and I’ll tell you how it (might have) happened.

Once, a long time ago, before any of you were born, your Papi and I took a trip up into the mountains. The little town where we stayed was right next to a lake, with tall, tall mountain peaks on every side. In the town was a little old man, and it was he who told us about the volcano.  He took us right out into the street and pointed up at one of those mountains.  It wasn’t as tall as some, and it’s top was a bit rounded.  He said that was because it was a volcano.  It had been asleep for years, but it was a real live volcano, with lava at its heart and lava rocks on its top.  Some people climb it, he said.

I knew right then and there that I had to be one of those people.

The day we set out to climb the volcano was a lovely sunny day.  The trees at the bottom were beautiful and swishing a bit in a nice breeze.  The trail wound away up the hill just like any other trail.  We started off with high hopes of being at the top in time to eat lunch. We would have made it with time to spare if that darn volcano had just stayed asleep.

We were just getting to the part where the trail started to get steep when I felt a little rumble underneath my feet.  That’s funny, I thought, that almost felt like the mountain was grumbling. I knew it couldn’t be anything too serious, though.  After all, this was a sleeping volcano.  (I thought.)

We kept on hiking, feeling our legs get tired as we went, and every once in a while feeling  just a tiny little trembling of the ground.  It happened often enough that both Papi and I noticed and asked each other what it could be.  We should have been smart and turned around right then, but we wanted to see the top and to be able to say that we stood on top of a real volcano.  We kept climbing.  We were just getting to the part where there were no more trees and only rocks ahead when the ground started shaking for real.  It shook so hard that we both fell over and just sat there, holding onto the bushes that grew by the side of the trail.  When the shaking finally stopped, we looked at each other.  We were both thinking the same thing.  That volcano was not sleeping.

That would have been another good time to head back down the mountain.  But we were SO CLOSE to the top.  We thought we would just run up really quick and look around, and then get back down in plenty of time.  The first part worked perfectly.  We were at the top in five minutes.  The view was spectacular.   We didn’t have time to admire it, though, because right at the moment the mountain gave a tremendous lurch, and ground cracked open right by our feet.  The crack spread quickly and before we knew it, we were separated by a glowing chasm.  I did not at all like being on the opposite side of that opening from Papi, so before I could think I leaped across.  I could feel the heat rising up from the depths as I jumped over.

Papi and I turned to run, but the ground was shaking and the rocks rose up into the air under our feet.  A fountain of lava burst up out of the ground not far from us.  There was no way to get down quickly enough.  Lava was bubbling up out of the crack and already moving toward our high rocky perch.  Only a little way down the mountain, I saw two old twisted trees.  I knew they were our only hope.

Jumping down off the rock, we made a leap across the growing river of lava.  I almost didn’t make it.  As I landed on the other side, I slipped and grabbed hold of some rocks to steady myself.  This piece of rock came off in my hand, and without thinking I stuffed it into my pocket.  Then we dashed for the trees.  We each climbed a tree and prayed that the lava would go around.  We were not so lucky.

The stream of lava came straight for our trees, slow and steady as lava always moves.  We knew it would burn up the trees if it hit them.  Then another great explosion rocked the mountain.  The trees fell with a crash.  We barely managed to avoid being crushed, as we each scrambled to the top of the branches that were now skidding down the mountainside.  Clinging on as tight as we could, we rode those fallen trees all the way down the mountain.  The river of lava was right behind us, but we were moving faster.  When the trees finally crashed to a stop in the foothills, we jumped off and ran as hard as we could.  Rescue vehicles were not far away, including a helicopter which flew us a safe distance away.

Then we stood with the rest of the town and watched the mountain bubble.

Maggie and the Flying Saucer, Part 2

Maggie and Tabby flew along in the saucer, down out of the mountains, over the plains and finally toward a deep canyon. Maggie felt her tummy flip-flop as the saucer dropped down into the canyon at full speed, but it came to a rest at the bottom as lightly as a cat landing on its paws.

Tabby jumped out of the saucer just as lightly. Maggie followed him into a nearby cave.

“Where are we going?” she asked.

“To Lava City,” said Tabby. “It’s down here a ways. Just around the corner you can see the glow.”

Maggie thought that lava city sounded a little more dangerous than Snow City. She was already starting to feel very warm. The bottoms of her feet were burning a little. Then she turned the corner and her mouth dropped open. She was standing on the edge of a drop off, and at the bottom a river of lava was flowing. All along the cliffs on both sides of the river, stone houses, glowing with heat. It was beautiful. Scary, too. But even though at first she was afraid she might fall over the edge, she quickly saw that there was a tall guard rail all along the walkway where they were standing. Wide steps led down the side of the cliff, also bordered by a secure wall that reached almost to Maggie’s shoulder.

Maggie was just about to start down the stairs when Tabby stopped her. “First we put on shoes,” he said. “The ground is quite hot down there.” He turned and showed her a set of cubby holes in the wall to their right. Each little cubby held a pair of shoes made out of what looked like rock.

“I’m already wearing shoes,” said Maggie.

“Why, so you are!” exclaimed Tabby. “Extraordinary. Still, unless they are made of flint or something stronger, you will probably want to change them. Lava city can be very hard on the feet.”

Maggie changed her shoes for a pair of rock shoes. She thought they would be very heavy and hard to walk in, but surprisingly they were quite light. Just wearing them made Lava City seem more wonderful and not scary at all. She followed Tabby down the stairs smiling. About halfway down to the lava river, Tabby turned off the stairs and went into a little cafe built right into the cliff. There were no windows in the cafe, but it was all lit up with red light that came from its own mini river of lava running down one wall and along a groove in the floor. Tabby chose a stone table and ordered up two hot chocolates.

To say that the hot chocolate was hot didn’t begin to describe it. When the stone mugs arrived at their table, Maggie couldn’t even get close enough to blow on it. She leaned back and waited, watching the spirals of steam coming off of her hot chocolate. When she did finally taste it, though, she could see why Tabby brought her all this way. It was like drinking the most delicious chocolate bar she had ever eaten. It was not too sweet and perfectly creamy. When she was finished, she wanted another, but when Tabby asked her if she’d like to stay for dinner, she suddenly remembered that she was supposed to be home for dinner. She hoped it wasn’t already too late. Her mother hated it when she was late for dinner.

“I have to go!” said Maggie. “My mother expects me at home.”

“Of course!” said Tabby. “Right away.”

They both leaped up from the table and dashed back up the stairs. In just a matter of moments, they were both in the saucer and taking off for Maggie’s house. Maggie could see the sun going down, and she would have been worried if she hadn’t been so amazed at how fast the saucer was flying. They were going at least twice as fast as they had before, and the world whirled away below them. In no time at all they were back at the tree where Tabby had found Maggie.

“Thank you so much,” said Maggie as she climbed back onto the branches and down the tree. “I’ve never had so much fun in my life.”

“It was my pleasure,” called out Tabby. “We’ll do it again sometime!” The saucer was already soaring up and disappearing into the clouds as Maggie ran toward home.

She was just in time. Her mother was putting the plates on the table when Maggie dashed in. Without even looking, Maggie’s mother said, “Take your shoes off and go wash up, Maggie.”

Maggie looked down at her feet and gasped. She had been in such a hurry to get home…she had forgotten to change her shoes! As quickly as possible, Maggie slipped off the stone shoes and hurried to her room. Her mother never saw anything. With a grin, Maggie stashed them under her bed. It was just as well, she thought, as she went to wash her hands. She would be needing some more of that hot chocolate soon.

Kakahi

Kakahi the dolphin was not like the other dolphins. He did not enjoy swimming with the crowd, splashing in the waves, and having water fights with the other dolphins. He would much rather be exploring the ocean floor, looking for interesting rocks and shells and making new discoveries. The other dolphins thought Kakahi was quite boring because he didn’t want to play but would go on and on about silly little things he found. Kakahi thought the other dolphins were quite boring because they didn’t know anything about the creatures that lived at the bottom of the ocean but only wanted to do the same silly games day after day. Needless to say, Kakahi spent a lot of time alone.

One day, when Kakahi was swimming along the ocean floor, hunting for rare animal specimens, he saw something glowing red a little ways ahead. Curious as always, he swam forward to investigate. He noticed that the water around him was getting warmer and warmer the closer he got to the glow. It wasn’t until the water was uncomfortably hot that he noticed that the glow was slowly inching toward him. There was only one thing it could be: lava! Kakahi was terrified. He backed away as the lava slowly rose toward him. The water was getting warmer all the time. Suddenly, Kakahi realized something. Escaping lava was probably the beginning of a bigger eruption. If an underwater volcano erupted, all the animals in the area would be in danger. Kakahi had to go warn the other dolphins. They were playing up at the surface and wouldn’t have any idea of their danger until it was too late. Beginning to panic, Kakahi turned and swam upward as fast as he could.

It took him a little while to find the other dolphins. He didn’t know where all their favorite places were to play, since he never played with them. Finally, though, he saw some spraying in the distance and headed toward it. When he reached the other dolphins, he was quite tired, but he tried his best to explain quickly.

“Down, on the ocean floor, lava!” he panted. “There’s lava. It’s rising. We have to get far away. Fast.”

The other dolphins just stared. “Kakahi,” said one. “We don’t care about your ocean floor discoveries. They’re boring.”

“No!,” said Kakahi. “It’s lava. Lava! Like a volcano. We’re in danger.”

The word volcano got their attention. A few of the dolphins began to look nervous, but most of the others didn’t believe him.

“There’s no volcano around here! You probably saw some kind of glowing eel or something and thought it was lava.”

“I know what glowing eels look like!” said Kakahi. “I have eight of them in my collection. This is lava. The water is getting hot.”

They were still unconvinced.

“Come yourselves, then,” said Kakahi. “I’ll show you. But we have to be quick. There may not be much time.”

Some of the dolphins still didn’t want to come and look. They didn’t know Kakahi very well and just thought he was a weirdo doing some weirdo thing again. But most of the dolphins were concerned enough to at least check it out. They followed Kakahi down toward the bottom of the ocean. It didn’t take long before the water was noticeably warmer. The dolphins swam a little faster. Pretty soon they could see the glow of the lava. The whole group stopped and stared for a minute. Then they turned together and began to swim away.

No one laughed at Kakahi any more. They began to ask him questions about how fast he thought it was rising.

“We need to head east,” said one of the older dolphins. “There is a sheltered cove near an island that I know. It’s quite far away. It should be far enough to be safe.”

The dolphins all agreed and began to swim east. They swam very fast. They could all feel the water warming and a tremor beginning far below. The farther they went and the faster they swam, the more Kakahi began to fall behind. He was not used to swimming so quickly. Because he didn’t play games with the other dolphins, he didn’t have as much practice jumping among the waves, and he was often knocked back. He began to get very tired. The other dolphins tried to encourage him, but he was just not as quick and strong as they were.

They were just out of range when they all heard a tremendous explosion behind them. A giant wave welled up and swept across the ocean toward them. The other dolphins knew just what to do and rode to the top of the wave and back down as it rushed past, but Kakahi was so exhausted that he could barely stay afloat. The wave grabbed at him and carried him at top speed toward the island in the distance. He was sure it would slam him onto the beach, but there was nothing he could do. Just when he had about given up hope, he felt something come up underneath him. Several of the strongest dolphins had fought their way over to him and were lifting him up with their own noses. With them to guide him, Kakahi was just barely able to drift sideways and down away from the main force of the wave. The other dolphins joined them, and they all watched as the tremendous tidal wave crashed over the island. For a moment, everything was chaotic and then it was strangely quiet. Without speaking, the dolphins swam into the cove where the water was littered with tree branches but otherwise calm. They had made it. They were safe.

The dolphins stayed a long time living near that island, and things were quite different. Many of the dolphins now took time to go exploring on the ocean floor with Kakahi, learning about the things in their world and keeping watch for dangers. Kakahi, in his turn, often went and played with the other dolphins, practicing to become a strong swimmer and jumper and finding that it was much more fun than he had thought.