(After the blast of May 18, 1980, the photo above shows the sheer devastation to the surrounding areas.)
Mt. St. Helens has always fascinated me since I was a child. I wasn’t alive during the blast of May 18, 1980 but when I was little, my mom being our troop leader for girl scouts, had us learn about Mt. St. Helens. We watched films, looked at pictures, read old myths. As a family we even made a trip there. Seeing the vegetation just starting to grow back taught me that even through the darkest of disasters, new beginnings can and do happen. New growth in a desolate land covered in dark ash and burnt out husks of trees lying in slumber across the terrain. It was a land from some story, one that didn’t fit in with the experiences of a little girl. It looks like another planet, maybe something you’d see on tv. Today, the forest is back and the animals have returned. Change. Rebirth. Nature is often the best teacher. Spring is a time of fertility, new beginngs, growth. Was this Mother Nature’s way of saying change was needed then? One final blow before Summer came?
(Taken recently by Miles Morgan, this picture shows that life has returned to the region.)
Before explorers from European nations came, the native people had their own myths associated with Mt. St. Helens. The Lady of Fire is a tale full of love, beauty, war and sadness. Below is an excerpt from the Oregon State volcano website.
From the Puyallup Tribes
According to the lore of these tribes, long ago a huge landslide of rocks roared into the Columbia River near Cascade Locks and eventually formed a natural stone bridge that spanned the river. The bridge came to be called Tamanawas Bridge, or Bridge of the Gods. In the center of the arch burned the only fire in the world, so of course the site was sacred to Native Americans. They came from north, south, west, and east to get embers for their own fires from the sacred fire.
A wrinkled old woman, Loowitlatkla (“Lady of Fire,”) lived in the center of the arch, tending the fire. Loowit, as she was called, was so faithful in her task, and so kind to the Indians who came for fire, that she was noticed by the great chief Tyee Sahale. He had a gift he had given to very few others — among them his sons Klickitat and Wyeast — and he decided to offer this gift to Loowit as well. The gift he bestowed on Loowit was eternal life. But Loowit wept, because she did not want to live forever as an old woman.
Sahale could not take back the gift, but he told Loowit he could grant her one wish. Her wish, to be young and beautiful, was granted, and the fame of her wondrous beauty spread far and wide.
One day Wyeast came from the land of the Multnomahs in the south to see Loowit. Just as he arrived at Tamanawas Bridge, his brother Klickitat came thundering down from the north. Both brothers fell in love with Loowit, but she could not choose between them. Klickitat and Wyeast had a tremendous fight. They burned villages. Whole forests disappeared in flames.
Sahale watched all of this fury and became very angry. He frowned. He smote Tamanawas Bridge, and it fell in the river where it still boils in angry protest. He smote the three lovers, too; but, even as he punished them, he loved them. So, where each lover fell, he raised up a mighty mountain. Because Loowit was beautiful her mountain (St. Helens) was a symmetrical cone, dazzling white. Wyeast’s mountain (Mount Hood) still lifts his head in pride. Klickitat , for all his rough ways, had a tender heart. As Mount Adams, he bends his head in sorrow, weeping to see the beautiful maiden Loowit wrapped in snow.