Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Mt. St. Helens, Year 30


PZ Myers asks "where were you 30 years ago today?" and answers with some truly fascinating biology.

He asks because, thirty years ago today, stuff happened -- seismic, world-changing, landscape-altering stuff, stuff that a few future Youtube account-holders were prescient enough to capture on camera:



At the time, I was far away in Ponca City, grinding my way through the closing days of fifth grade, a 10-year-old fan of the Atari 2600 and Philadelphia 76ers who was only vaguely aware that there was a Pacific Northwest with exploding mountains. Prior to that, I only knew Cascadia as a place to which my mom hauled me in her VW Bug when I was five-ish, and, of vastly more importance to me at the time, the most probable habitat of Bigfoot (shown here fleeing the blast). So much has changed since then and yet so little.

In subsequent days, the jet stream pushed the dust cloud over us in the flyover states, tinging the sky in a grayish haze, one differing from the familiar grayish-reddish cloud from the local oil refinery.

We tried to pretend to care when our teachers used the eruption of Mt. St. Helens as an opportunity to teach us about volcanos, ash, and other geological topics, but really, the weather was turning sunny, the school year was winding down, the NBA finals were heating up, and we were on the verge of taking over as masters of the K-6 elementary school. We were drunk with ambition and focused on willing the clock to 3pm, and truth be told, most of us had never even seen an actual mountain. Our teachers might as well have been chattering about unicorns.

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Today, if not for the damn houses and trees in the way, not to mention the frequent shroud of rain cloud, I would have a spectacular front porch view of Mt. St. Helens as it stands in its post-erupted shape (image above). It is still a beautiful mountain, and all the more interesting and legendary for what it did 30 years ago.

SJKP has another remembrance from closer to the action.

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