Kilauea volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii had a sizable eruption yesterday, May 17th, one month before my daughter Katy’s wedding on the Big Island. On May 18, 1980, Mt. St. Helens erupted, one month before my wedding in Missoula Montana.
I don’t care what anyone says, this is freaky. Volcano eruptions a month before mine and my daughter’s weddings 38 years apart, the same month and almost the same day, one month before each wedding. We now think of it as an ashy family tradition.
Thirty-eight years ago on May 18, 1980, I sat on spring grass at a picnic in Missoula, Montana, watching a dark, anvil cloud move overhead. I wondered at the dark speckles on my plate. Almost broke a molar chewing potato salad. Oh yum, volcanic ash, crunchy and delicious. (I figured I was running low on my daily Sulphur requirement)
Holy crap, Russia finally nuked us!
Ran to my car and turned on the radio. Not a bomb, a volcano. Mount St. Helens. Where the heck is that? Oregon. Didn’t know they even had volcanoes. (I was clueless) Why is ash falling in Missoula? The Jetstream carried it? Break out the hankies. Didn’t have N-95 masks back then.
No one drove, cars stopped dead on the road. Once ash gets in the engine forget it. And you can’t see. Everything closed, no work no school. We lived in a six-plex, twenty miles east of Missoula, next to I-90. The Forest Service put me on a week of “Administrative Volcano Leave.” (They didn’t know what else to call it) Half of us worked and half were college students and all of us were deemed “non-essential.” Party Time!
We raided our freezer for the wedding food I’d prepared. Cocktail pasties. Swedish meat balls. Rum cakes. We drank all the beer and wine we’d purchased for our wedding. You wouldn’t believe how fast a dozen people can blow through a freezer of food during a non-stop party. We raided everyone’s freezers and ran out of beer.
Uh-oh, someone had to do a beer run to Poor Henry’s Bar, two miles down the road. We flipped for it. Our next door neighbor called heads and then passed out. So we had to go. Took up a collection, then inched our V-Dub along the frontage road to Poor Henry’s. Bought some kegs.
In a weird coincidence, the day before I’d bought a bucket of volcanic ash for ten bucks to put on my vegetable garden. I scowled at the bucket, with new ash falling on old ash. What were the chances? The universe was folding in on itself.
Everyone looked like outlaws, bandanas and surgical masks over mouth and noses. We even had a mask on our golden retriever.
We played all night poker, Monopoly, and Risk. Couldn’t believe how ruthless people were taking over the world. Two neighbors got in a fist fight over Madagascar. Pieces flew everywhere, took forever to crawl around and find them again.
So next month when we fly to the Big Island, as long as volcano goddess Pele lets us. Who knows, we could be stranded by another ashfall. I can think of worse places to be stranded than Hawaii.
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