I'm often amazed at how beautiful the small things in nature can be. Whether a bee pollinating a flower, a wild animal stopping to look at you, a blade of grass struggling to grow in a desert, or how sculpted lava can seem.
These photos were taken during a recent visit to Volcanoes National Park on Hawaii's Big Island. All of the Hawaiian islands were created by volcanic activity, starting first with Kauai in the northwest, then Oahu, then Maui, and most recently to the southeast, the Big Island (there's another Hawaiian island currently forming under the ocean south of the Big Island, but none of us will live to see that one emerge from the sea).
Hardened lava flows can generally be described as one of two types: 1) very rough lava, so rough it will tear up even sturdy hiking boots, and 2) smooth lava that looks much like pancake batter being poured and hardening while flowing. In the Hawaiian language the rough lava is known as 'A'a. The smooth ropy lava is known as Pahoehoe.
These photos show the earliest vegetation -- mostly small ferns and grass -- taking root in hardened Pahoehoe lava.