MG Mason

Snippet Sunday 1/6/14: “The Day I…”


Snippet Sunday, my regular feature has been going for a few months now and most of the time I can relate my flash fiction to the Daily Prompt. It has been mostly fiction though aside from my short piece following the Bristol 10K. Today’s is to post a photograph (which I have put as the banner header at the top) and to write about the experience. This is the day I visited the volcano on Nisyros. It is going to be a bit of a Mindfulness experience seeing a I am doing a relaxation course at the moment. I visited a crater inside the caldera on the island of Nisyros in 2004. This is the day I fell in love with a volcano.

The first thing that strikes you when inside a volcano is not how barren it is, not that it is dead, though it certainly appears that way if you use only your eyes. No, the first thing you notice is how alive it feels.


The land is parched, dry, flaked. There is no soil and it feels like walking on rust. Rust, for something old and falling apart, delicate, fragile yet there is nothing fragile about this – it hasn’t erupted for hundreds of years but it is active. It could go at any time. Pick up some of the soil. It does indeed feel like rust. It is rough and flakes to the touch. It is also warm, warmer than it should be even in the baking heat of the Dodecanese summer. Let it go and watch it float away, carried on the light wind.


The caldera walls are alive with trees, shrubs and local fauna. The soil is good, it is rich and in amongst the potential death there is life. The crater is barren yet colourful: white of dry-parched minerals, yellow of sulphur crystals scattered liberally on the ground and colonising the walls. There are craters in craters in craters from which billows angry hot steam. It has travelled from beneath the surface of the planet, tens of miles down on a slow journey to freedom and much colder air.

Smell / Taste

It’s everywhere that smell of hydrogen sulphide though to you it just smells like rotten eggs. It gets stronger as you move to the centre of the crater and is strongest at those angry air vents. You get used to it and come to appreciate the quirky nature of this toxic gas. You’re safe here though in the open air but your clothes will stink for days. It will leave a taste in your mouth.


The sound of wildlife is the most surprising of all but down here in the crater they are keeping well away. Down here you have only the excited shuffling feet of the tourists, the lectures from the tour guides and the amusing “boiling kettle” noises of those air vents again.

A volcano may not be full of greenery, you may not be falling over animals with every step you take but they have a life of their own if you know how to hear, touch, see and smell it.

Sulphur crystals
copyright MG Mason