Friday, May 18, 2012
I remember what it was now. It was 32 years ago today that Mount St. Helens erupted in Washington state. Many lives were lost, and the surrounding forests were changed into a gray moonscape. I was only nine, but I remember the footage of trees lying like twigs for miles, and rivers of wood and mud jamming up the rivers. My dad used to take me and my cousins to the Toutle River before 1980 and I clearly remember how clean and refreshing that river was before it was erased. Going much farther back I actually have a distant memory from my early childhood of going to the base of St. Helens. I still hold a snapshot in my memory of the winter snow surrounding us and the white mountain loomed over us then. That was all well before there were any genuine signs of awakening. I also recall after the 1980 eruption the story of a quirky old man named Harry Truman (not the president but roughly the same age) who lived in a house that was very close to the base of the volcano. He had numerous cats and was probably a slight bit insane. He refused to leave his home when advised and ended up bonding with St Helens in the most intimate way. His house was never even found. For several years after it would rain ash from the sky on days when the volcano was spewing. This was common for a while when I lived in Kelso during the fifth grade. I could barely see the top of St Helens from the living room window of our little house. I will always remember the ashes, drizzling down and lightly blanketing the cars and sidewalks like a gray snow.