Friday, May 18, 2012

It was a sunny day on May 18th,1980 just like today.

We have been very fortunate here in the Pacific Northwest because for the past week we have had high pressure holding over us. Finally, an entire week of above normal temperatures and sunshine.  For gardeners it is a wonderful very busy time out digging in the dirt.

It was a similar spring back in 1980.  It was so warm in 1980 that my carrots and other root vegetables were already several inches high on this date.  In 2012, it's time for all of my plants that I started under the lights in my basement to be moved up to the front deck to harden off.

The Red Robin Tomatoes see the light of day for the first time. 

The geraniums have started to make blossoms and should be ready to transfer to pots in another week.

The lettuce that was growing under the lights is very happy to see sunshine.

The Wave Petunias need to be transferred to pots.  It's next on my "to do" list.

The potatoes, carrots, beets, onions and the first row of lettuce seeds have been planted.  I have been busy spreading manure and compost on all of my flower beds and the vegetable garden.  I would say I am 2/3 done so that is good news on May 18th, but
back to 1980, a long, long time ago.

May 18th, Mt. St. Helen's Day

Photos from: USGS Prof. Paper 1250

We still lived on the Loman Place and would build our house that summer.  We watched with great interest all of the goings on at Mt. St. Helen's during the early spring.  We were in a pool at the local bar, Murphy's, as to when it would finally erupt.  We didn't win.  

When it erupted on the morning of May 18th, Retired Mountain Man, being the scientist he is, laid out pieces of plastic sheets in our yard so that he could take measurements of the amount of ash that might fall.  He and our two sons spent over an hour making the preparations.  We had no idea of what was about to happen.  Well, I think he had some idea, but I was clueless.

As the clouds of ash approached Lake Pend Oreille and our cabin, the animals and birds definitely did not like it.  I remember a flock of geese circling above our place, noisily honking "what the #@!" as the sky darkened and the ash clouds came closer.  It was a very eerie sound.  Since then, I have never heard geese honking without thinking of that moment.

Mid-day sunshine became dark night.  The ash permeated everything.  It seemed to find any crack in the old log cabin that we lived in and seep inside. You were pretty sure you did not want to be breathing it into your lungs and many people wore masks.

Photo from: USGS Prof. Paper 1250

In a couple of days it all settled out of the air onto the ground and it covered everything.   We took the hose and sprayed it off of everything in the vegetable garden, the fruit trees, berry bushes and grapes.  Our youngest son, who had just turned 6 years old at the time, walked into the garden and came running back to the house yelling "there are a million snakes in the garden"!  We knew that David didn't like snakes (another story to be told later), so we really didn't believe him, but Retired Mountain Man went to check it out.  As he walked into the garden area carrying David on his shoulders, a snake crawled over his foot and he noticed several others scampering away from him.  Yes, they were everywhere!  We had created a green zone which became a haven for the snakes where there was no ash.    

As for the measurements Retired Mountain Man took, I don't remember what his results were, but we still have two jars of Mt. St. Helen's ash stored in the basement.  It's our son's inheritance.  They each get a jar of ash and they can tell their grandchildren the story of their Mt. St. Helen's experience. 


isthereanymorepie said...

What a great post! That snakes-in-the-garden story was truly fascinating, in a creepy kind of way. Wow! Remember how everyone was afraid to drink the water?

Julie said...

Great post! I remember that day well. The nice day became prematurely dim. Then it began "raining" ash. I have a little keepsake jar of ash too. I should label it... for Dylan's inheritance :)