Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Blowin' Your Top and Carrying On

31 years ago today, Mount St. Helens felt a rumble in her belly and all hell broke loose.

It was my senior year in high school, and although I have an overall memory of the event, the details of the actual fallout escape me, except for a couple of people I heard a lot about over the course of years:

Harry Truman, the crotchety old man who owned and operated the Spirit Lake Lodge, and refused to leave his home and mountain; and David Johnston, the geologist who first reported the eruption and whose last words heard were, "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!"

I had been to Spirit Lake two years earlier for a leadership camp. The area was breathtakingly beautiful. That was my first thought on the morning of the 18th as I heard about, and began to see the effects of, the eruption of the mountain.

Years later, my husband, son and I stopped at the Johnston Ridge observatory; the first time I had physically seen the area since I was 16 years old. To see the way the landscape and environment had changed, even though years had passed and plants and animals had returned, was sobering.

Today, 31 years later, I honor the memory of the 57 victims - some boldly within the danger zone, and so many others who believed, as did the experts, that they were a safe distance away. One never knows the true force nature has at her disposal.

The beauty of the mountain is different today than it was then, but it's still a beauty.

1 comment:

Michelle Rafter said...

I graduated from college and my sister graduated from high school on the day M.S.H. blew. My parents were in California for my morning graduation ceremony and my mom was supposed to fly back to Portland for my sister's graduation that afternoon. The mountain changed that. Instead, our two other sisters played substitute parents and hosted my h.s. sister's graduation party while my parents drove home. My sis didn't mind. In fact, she got a job that summer on an ash-removal road crews.