For as long as I can remember, I have had a fixation on Mt. St. Fuji…
I know. It is actually 2 different mountains. But, as a kid growing up in Portland in the shadow of Mt. St. Helens, I had heard repeatedly that Mt. Fuji in Japan was Helen’s sister. It’s easy to understand why…if you take a look at pictures of the two mountains before May, 1980.
Only the cherry blossoms tip off the viewer that one is in Japan, and the other in the PNW.
Not only was I alive the day she blew…but I was with the young lady who would become my wife of 35 years (and counting) while saying goodbye to one of the most beloved places from my childhood (and no…the two events don’t really mix, except in my mind, which is a fairly mixed-up place to be).
Mt. St. Helens was beautiful. Some would say it still is, even since it lost 1/3 of its majestic height. But what made it more beautiful than ever to me, especially during the summers, was Spirit Lake and the Boy Scout camp where I worked and played for several summers in my youth. It was breathtaking, life-altering, and the kind of thing that changes a young boy into a man (or at least one who thinks he is a man). And, although the mountain had been “active” with steam and minor rumbles for decades, nobody ever thought that it would roar back to life the way it did. But, it did…leaving not a single trace of any of the youth camps that lined its waters.
When it did get wiped out, in an eruption that was heard more than a thousand miles away, covering the land around it with ash for hundreds of miles to the south, those of us within view, simply stood in wonder, holding hands. The landscape for miles around was altered beyond description. Nothing would ever look the same.
It was on that day, that I was first introducing Debbie, my wife to be, to my extended family at a huge reunion at a park just south of Portland. We heard the explosion, and then saw the plumes of ash heading our way. It is a day I will never forget…as it was marked by the end of one chapter, and the beginning of another.
But…so far, this entire post has been ONE HUGE DIGRESSION…because we didn’t really get Mt. St. Helens...we got Mt. Fuji…which hasn’t erupted since 1770. But……there are rumblings, and some minor earthquakes as recent as 2011. So, if I was a betting man, I’d say that they shouldn’t build a Boy Scout camp anywhere near it, anytime soon.
As for what I did with my Mt. Fuji? I turned it into an homage to Mt. St. Helens…complete with a small version of Spirit Lake.
But, if I really want a tangible memory…there is a “treasure box” I keep tucked under my socks and tee shirts…right next to an Indian scraping tool, a Boy Scout neckerchief tie off, and a couple of my old pocket knives, sits a leather Spirit Lake “hat” that I won for a campfire “talent” competition one night in 1967. Priceless…
For those waiting for me to turn this into some sort of political metaphor for our current climate…keep waiting. Not gonna happen. In fact, to the contrary, it may be more of a story of surviving cataclysmic change, and then watching new life spring from the ashes (did I mention that I had just come through a horrible divorce and was a single father of two when I met Deb?). But, I am digressing from my digression…
What is more important in our games, it the ability to construct our own memories…little reminders of a life well lived. I have tons of them in my Springfield. My TSTO town has become another “treasure box” laden with little trinkets that remind me of what is important in life.
What did YOU do with your Mt. Fuji? Do you remember when Mt. St. Helens blew her top? Have you ever seen a live volcano? Let us know…you know we LOVE to hear from you!
PS...I’ve had a number of my old fans bugging me to remind you about some of the “other sides” of Cranky Old Guy. For those who want to follow along…
http://www.friendsofbuyijja.com – if you want to be part of our work in Buyijja
http://www.crankyoldguy.com – if you miss my “cranky” side.