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“Orange light” from Kilauea Crater: A Hawai’ian Painter’s View

FLORIDA—Written Thursday, October 30, 2014.


A painter friend on Hawai’i’s big island offered me an unlimited amount of “Orange light” to decorate for the Christmas season. (Yes, Christmas versus Halloween.)


He was joking. And, he was referring to the orange lava flowing from Kilauea Crater. I understood his efforts to keep light-hearted, and stay grounded. His hotel and resort was filled to capacity with vacationers and conventioners that had evacuated Pāhoa, and other south and southeast areas of Hawai’i.


“Joel (not real name), what are you doing with all of those extra guests? And staff?” I emailed back to him on Thursday, as the lava flow slowed down. “Getting ready for Christmas, Bob.”


“I hear you.”


“We have a huge property here. We’re used to being very busy. The extra team members – highly trained and proficient – have been a big help already. It takes a lot of hands to decorate for the holidays.”


Joel always reminds me of the Energizer Bunny. Some of it comes from his industrial painting background in the Chicago area (eg. steel mills, foundries) – and his family. (A lot of firefighters and police officers.) Anyway….


“We’ve recruited some of the guests. I’d say at least nine to help the staff set up for the holidays. String up lights. There are MANY MILES of those,” he e-mailed.


“We have our story scenes. Our – Hawai’i’s version – celebration and fun. Seven of those in all.” He ran off the list of seven. I was very impressed. All of the scenes’ structures, props, etc. have been hand-crafted from native woods.


“Groups of children are making decorations for our Christmas trees – three of those. Centerpieces for the tables, also extra pieces for our Luaus…” Joel said the hotel had added a special Luau, early dinner time. Just for children. “They’re eating it up.”


“Yesterday, I put three retiree guests to work repainting Santa’s sleigh scene. This morning, we unpacked the contemporary nativity scene, and set it up for repairs and touch-ups this PM.


“Some of the guests came over to us somewhat shook-up, feeling on edge. Looking for some reassurance they’ll be okay. Needing something to ground them, to hold onto.


“This is a good time of the year to be here, Bob. Gives these families a little time to re-ground, re-group. Plan their next move. Gives them some extra attention.


“They’ll be fine. More and more, I see them relaxing, walking holding hands, smiling. Heading for the beaches. Venturing off the property. That’s real good, Bob.”


“Yeah, that’s real good, Joel.”


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Thankfully, as of Friday, October 31, 2014, Kilauea had calmed down. Pāhoa area residents were still taking precautions. Staying away, in safe zones. We wish them the best.


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Communities in Kilauea’s path: The residents of Pāhoa, and also Kalapana, have been in jeopardy. Pāhoa is located directly east of the Kilauea Crater, and south-southeast of Hilo. Kalapana is located between Kilauea and Pāhoa, to the south.


Location of Kilauea Volcano: Kilauea Crater is located west of Pāhoa, northeast of Puna Forest Reserve, east of Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, southwest of Hilo, and west of Hawai’i Paradise Park and Hawai’i Beaches (south of Hilo).


A piece of Kilauea history: Kilauea Volcano is a “hyperactive shield volcano.” It is the most active of the five that form Hawai’i. It has been erupting continuously since January 3, 1883. Between 1750 and 1982, it erupted sixty-three times.


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This is for painters wherever you work, and live. Try to stay safe, everyone. Thank you for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

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