Volcanoes and Airplanes

This week we were treated to multiple media presentations about the forty-year anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helen. It’s located in Washington near our southern BC border. As all the announcements about that event were occurring, I was reminded of trip I made so long ago with my husband.

Mount St. Helen Volcano

We were returning home to Nanaimo after a weekend convention, in Seattle, settled in a five-passenger jet with the company pilot in the cockpit. As the plane moved slightly inland Stan’s comment was, “See over there, the mountain is beginning to steam.” We had the good fortune to witness the very first indications of that eruption of Mount St. Helen. Witnessing was the easy part, the cleanup after was something else.

While many people were listening and reading about the eruption, I was remembering the awful volcanic dust that covered absolutely everything for days, weeks, as a result of the eruption. And we lived a long way from that mountain. The stuff settled everywhere, was especially hard on automobile paint, and even after we had forgotten why, we were finding spots of it where we hadn’t yet cleaned.

Fertilizer Dust

In addition to the lives lost that day, a whole mountainside of timber disappeared in the fire. Our business was based on trees and forestry. The good news was not discovered until months and years later. The volcano left every bit of open land, burned or not, covered with a substance that acted like fertilizer. When tree-planters went out two years later and dug seedlings into the ground in the usual way, we were all delighted to discover the trees growing better than any other area that had been planted.


My title included airplanes. I’ve told you of one trip that was important to me. What I am not able to understand is the excitement this week of watching beautifully painted airplanes going through their gymnastic routines as an entertainment. I have never been impacted by war and I avoid war-focused stories and films. These air displays seem to me to be on the edges of war and costly in dollars and lives besides.