Almost hidden beneath layer upon layer of more mundane recollections is my memory of a childhood fascination with volcanoes. Though the details are long gone, I recall receiving a treasured gift—from my parents, I think—of a book about all sorts of geological wonders. The book was full of four-color photographs and illustrations, eye candy to a kid enchanted by the wonders of the natural world. Among the pictures were cross-sectional drawings of volcanoes and photos of red-hot lava pouring from fissures in the Earth. The accompanying text explained, in terms a child could easily understand, how liquid rock beneath Earth’s surface sometimes burst to the surface, spewing molten lava and dust into the atmosphere. I do not recall whether the allure of volcanoes preceded or followed the gift of that book. Regardless, that book became one of my favorites for what seems, now, like years.
Today is the forty-second anniversary of the massive eruption of Mount St. Helens, classified as a stratovolcano, in the state of Washington. By the time of that event, my fascination with volcanoes had cooled, though news of what would be classified as the deadliest and most economically destructive volcano in recorded U.S. history triggered a resurgence of interest. But my interest in the geology of volcanoes was eclipsed by astonishment at the sheer magnitude of the volcano’s explosive power. According to an online summary published by the U.S. Geological Survey, 57 people died as a result of the eruption. “More than 185 miles of highways and roads and 15 miles of railways were destroyed or extensively damaged,” the summary reported. It says “more than 200 houses and cabins were destroyed” and “many thousands of acres of prime forest, as well as recreational sites, bridges, roads, and trails, were destroyed or heavily damaged.” Referencing a National Geographic article, Wikipedia asserts that “Geologists predict that future eruptions will be more destructive, since the configuration of the lava domes there require more pressure to erupt.” Despite that frightening prediction, the economy of the Mount St. Helens area, heavily reliant on tourism, has not only returned to pre-eruption levels but has surpassed them. That is also despite the continued volcanic activity, until 2008, after the eruption.
The little boy who found volcanoes so intriguing all those years ago is still fascinated by them, though their allure is not as strong. Thinking back through the fog of years, I wonder how different my life might have been today if I had followed the passion, professionally. Would my interest in volcanoes still be infused with a sense of wonder or would I, instead, look at them through a lens of detached professionalism? Impossible to say…with any degree of certainty.
I woke up at 3 this morning. It is now an hour and a quarter later. Less than four hours from now, a crew from a Hot Springs moving company will arrive and will pack up the “big stuff” to move it to the new house. Before they arrive, I will empty two refrigerators and their freezers into some ice chests, hoping the frozen foods will stay frozen until the refrigerators are operational once again. That is hopeful thinking, considering the fact the widespread advice that refrigerators be left unplugged for between four and twelve hours after moving to allow refrigerants, etc. to return to equilibrium. Failure to give them time to “settle” could result in massive failure of their ability to cool. Hmm. Here’s hoping the food will survive the move.
Let your home be your mast and not your anchor.
~ Kahlil Gibran ~
After the “big stuff” is moved, we will continue to move the “small stuff,” an undertaking that seems to be taking approximately forever. I hope the house will be empty before the scheduled closing, which is set for a week from this coming Friday. Tonight will be the first one in the new house, surrounded by boxes that will not be unpacked and their contents put away for some time to come. The sheer volume of belongings being moved is another strong argument for a minimalist lifestyle. Living out of a knapsack continues to have real appeal, though I suspect I would change my tune if that came to pass.
After days and days and days of packing and moving, my joints and muscles are sore. My body is not accustomed, nor well-suited, to such abuse. I think I may need a six-week recovery period involving a full-body massage, daily. What I need and what I get, though, are different beasts. Ach!