Forty years ago, nearby Mount St. Helens erupted killing 57 people in a single blast, not to mention animals. By perspective, the Coronavirus has now slowly taken 137 Oregon lives in 11 weeks that seemed like forever. Thankfully, there have been no new reported cases in the last three days. The flattening curve today looks just like a mountain. It’s been a long, exhausting climb the last 60 days, but we can now see the base camp on the way down. I have to ask the question: what’s more terrorizing – a volcano or a pandemic?
I came to Oregon for the first time just after the explosion and saw the city covered in ash. All the scenic vistas that the area is known for weren’t visible for weeks. It left an ugly scar on the landscape, taking 1280 feet off the top and destroying $1.1 billion in property. Last year, my wife and I took a drive up to the top and spent some time at the Monument, museum, and observation center. Shorty after, my wife’s daughter hiked to the crater on top. Travels have also taken us to both Pompeii and Herculaneum to witness the devastation of other historic volcanoes. All of these side-trips have been humbling, especially those in our own back yard.
We’ve recently been faced with invisible destruction that’s resulted in sickness and death. The toll on lives and the economy will grow far worse, as our state has yet to re-open for business. There was no big blast but rather a silence, as people continue to stay home. Our recent outings have included a couple of drives up to enjoy the five visible peaks that skirt the city of Portland, including Mt. St. Helens. In the future, as I marvel at these mountains, I’ll think of our time here in self-isolation, worried about the graphs that once looked like mountains that would never peak. I’m glad we finally reached the top, beyond the explosion, and now cautiously headed to the safety of flat ground.