Last week Etna erupted and I (and my son), for the first time, saw the lava shooting out from the crater with our own eyes. Billowing Etna smoke is not a new experience. But gurgling lava is! It was an impressive site.
We have no view of Etna from our house and it seems that recent eruptions have always occurred at times when I was just not in the right place at the right time.
This time was different.
As I auto-piloted it home after an afternoon playdate in the park with friends, I looked up absently, a driver's automatic gaze, as we rounded the corner just before Ognina. It only took a second for my brain to register that the bight orange glow and black cloud of ashy smoke I have been craving to see for years was right before my eyes - an Etna eruption.
In my excitement I hollered out to the 5 year old: "LOOK!". The reflexes kicked in and I pulled the car over to the side of the road where we had an unobstructed view of the wonder. The other cars drove by as if nothing out of the ordinary was taking place (for them nothing was, I'm sure).
From the side of the road the boy's dinner time hunger pains were completely forgotten. From this angle we could concentrate on the movement of the lava, that we realized with more amazement, we could see even from this distance. Undulations, the wave-like flow of lava spurting, higher, lower, amorphous, burning hot.
"Imagine what it's like up there right now!"
Witnessing this spectacle felt like a rite of passage, like becoming a member of the island club. "Now we've seen an eruption". As we eventually continued on our ride home I felt satisfied by the fulfillment of a long held desire, the wonder of it all, better than fireworks, better than a surprise party, better than a soccer match, better than....?