Friday, April 27, 2012

Weekly Happenings: Volcanoes and A Biting Lizard

A windy week here! The girls and I planted some morning glory seeds in mini peat pots, but the wind has overturned them so many times that only one pot of seedlings survives. My rosebushes have suffered as well; the front walk is littered with rose petals. It looks as if we hosted a wedding.

Our lessons were back to normal after last week's CAT5 testing. Here are some highlights:

This Country of Ours: the battles of Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, the Emancipation Proclamation, and Stonewall Jackson's death
Oliver Twist: Oliver shows some grit but pays the price for it
Plutarch's Lives: Brutus flees Rome in the aftermath of Caesar's murder

In Story Book of Science, we read about volcanoes. Since Himself and I were recently on the Big Island of Hawaii and visited Volcanoes National Park, I especially enjoyed these two chapters. The girls looked at photos we took, and so can you!

The crater at Kiluea, an active volcano on the Big Island

A closer look at the smoking crater. Pay no attention to the wind-blown woman on the left.

The Kiluea Iki crater, which erupted for several weeks in 1959, filled with lava several times during the eruption. There's a fantastic hike along the rainforested rim (at right) then down into and across the crater. If you look closely, you can see the trail through the crater (on left side). The crater is huge and there are multiple steam vents. From the top of the rainforest rim overlooks, people on the crater trail look like ants.

On another part of the island, the aptly-named Road to the Sea, south of Kona and Captain Cook, leads through a surreal landscape, courtesy of a massive lava flow 250 years ago. The road reaches a black sand beach and massive sand dunes.

There are lots of trees and other vegetation at the top of the road. But then the landscape changes. 

Sparse vegetation. Can you see the ribbon of road at the top left? 

Soon all plant life disappears. But not humans. Believe it or not, there were a few houses on this road! 

The wind was blowing briskly, but other than that, there was no sound. 

Large lava rock piles appeared as we got closer to the ocean. 

Black sand beach. The photo does not do this scene justice. The water was the most glorious blue, and it looked amazing next to the black sand. 

The surf was extremely strong, and the wind was, as you can imagine, forceful.

And that's what a lava field looks like, more than two and a half centuries after the eruption. The whole experience was astounding. It was the longest six-mile road we'd ever driven (DON'T try it in a regular car), but it was completely worth the trouble.

A bit of nature study: Georgette found a small lizard yesterday, and Tiny Girl rescued it. She held in while I ran inside to get my camera. I ran back out to yells of: "It bit me! It actually bit me! I'm bleeding!"

The stunned lizard swooned on the driveway. I swiped it into a small bucket for further inspection. In case you're wondering, Tiny Girl's wound was slight. No Band-Aid required.

We took a lot of photos, most of which turned out poorly, amid comments like, "Can we let it go now? Don't get it near me!" (Miss Priss) and "That thing is vicious!" (Tiny Girl) and "It's trying to defend itself. It's scared" (me).

After some research, we concluded that it was a green anole. At first I wasn't sure, because our lizard looked different from the online photos. However, we learned that green anoles can change color when stressed (our was a bit mottled) and also black bands appear around males' eyes when they are feeling aggressive or stressed (ours had dark around its eyes). We determined it was a male due to the black bands and its pink dewlap.

So that's our week! How was yours?


  1. Wow, amazing pictures. We went on a wonderful mountain hike not too far from our home yesterday. It was so refreshing to get out of home, to break the schedule and enjoy one another. This weekend we are just relaxing, my husband is taking my children to visit some friends chicks which they are very excited about. Have a wonderful day. xxx

  2. You had me laughing out loud at the green anole expedition! Wow, I stop by and get a visit to Hawaii (gorgeous photos) and a laugh!

    I agree - it has been mighty windy. Your description of the strewn rose petals and having hosted a wedding is perfect. :)

  3. Your volcano photos brought back memories of being in Portland the day that Mt. St. Helens erupted. Very strange indeed.

    I hope the lizard wound has healed by now, and that your roses are recovering. You are much further along, flower-wise, than us to have rose petals! I was surprised to see some buds on one of my English roses (Gertrude Jekyll) this morning - but roses don't usually flower in Aberdeen until the beginning of July so we have a while to wait. It's worth the wait, though!

  4. Sara, Tricia, and Christine: I'm so glad you enjoyed the post! Tiny Girl is fine after her run-in with the anole; she's always been my fearless girl when it comes to grasping creepy-crawlies. She may be a bit more circumspect after this!

    Christine, we had such a mild winter that everything flowered much earlier than usual. April is the month when the flowering trees are bursting into bloom; but this April all was green and leafy. trees flowered in March. And my daffodils were in their glory in mid February -- unheard of! Perhaps your Gertrude Jekyll (love that one!) will bloom earlier, too.


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