Time and lava wait for no man

Once more I am reminded not to postpone things I'd really like to do. Not only is man's own lifespan a short one, but Nature is a fickle beast.

It was just a couple of years ago I was vacationing on the Caribbean island of Antigua. Nice place. Pretty vegetation, lush resorts, pleasant people. But, all in all, not a lot to do. However, I did have the opportunity to fly over to neighboring Montserrat, a tiny 10-by-7-mile island known for its natural beauty until a 1997 volcanic eruption covered half of it in ash and hardened lava, killed 19 people and drove half the remaining population of 10,000 off the island.

The attraction was to see up-close what a volcanic flow could do. Actually seeing it edge-by-edge with the unaffected part of the island, according to several residents of Montserrat I spoke with while they were on Antigua on business.

One thing led to another and I never did go. Now comes word that the Soufriere Hills volcano is acting up again (as seen here), tossing smoke and ash five miles in the air. The crater's lava dome continues to grow and experts say the mounting pressure could be released in a powerful blast. That would pretty much do in the rest of the island, and at least keep visitors from touching down there.

As Humphrey Bogart might have put it, the problems of one little tourist don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world. But, I still wish I had dropped in. It's not every day you can feel the earth move under your feet.

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