Ask any Cascadian that was alive in 1980 where they were on May 18th, and they can likely relay every detail of their day similar to how most Americans know exactly what they were doing November 22, 1963, July 20th, 1969 and September 11th, 2001. I vividly remember my mom showing us on TV why we couldn't go out and play in what looked to me like fog. With tears in my eyes, I asked "so, my mountain is just gone?" After all, Mount St. Helens was my favorite Cascade mountain. I loved boat rides in Spirit Lake, hiking through the wild flower filled meadows and camping in the fragrant evergreen forests surrounding the elegant glacier covered dome of the volcano. With ash billowing from where my mountain once was on the TV behind her, my mom tearily told me that yes, all that was gone. We sobbed.
Like most Cascadians, I have grown to love the new Mount St. Helens and have enjoyed watching the renewal of the mountain's ecosystem. It is this love for our unique region and binding memories of huge moments for Cascadia and that unites residents of the Pacific Northwest or the bio region, Cascadia. And such unity is one reason that the man who named our bio region, David McClosky, declared May 18th Cascadia Day.
The Cascadian Nomads will spend Cascadia Day as we do every day, soaking up each second of the breathtaking beauty our region offers. Not a day goes by without something I see around me taking my breath away. A day in Cascadia might offer me a bask in the glow of the sparkling water of the mighty Columbia River, standing in awe of a massive volcanic peak, enjoying a sunset behind a stunning mountain range or a sunrise with one of the world's most spectacular skylines. The lesson taught by the eruption 35 years ago or, more recently, the fate of the Kalaloch Redcedar reminds me, all Cascadians, and perhaps everyone, how fleeting moments with nature can be. Cascadia Day is an excellent reminder to never take my surroundings for granted, even something seen everyday.
Many years after the eruption, the van that my childhood nomadic family traveled the continent in would billow out Mount Saint Helens ash when hitting the upholstery hard enough. The van had been cleaned professionally many times but there was no escaping what it had survived. That van is a perfect metaphor for my life as a Cascadian. No matter where I roam, there is no avoiding where I am from and, in the end, where I belong. I think I can say the same of all of the Cascadian Nomads. We are so lucky to get to see all we can of the world outside of Cascadia, but here is where we have made the most memories. Here in Cascadia is where we wish to continue to experience as much together as time allows. Cascadia Day is a perfect opportunity to reflect on the past and our future. So Happy Cascadia Day to Jason, Wilhelm, Brychwyn, Huxley, Amelia, Leo and to all of you. Cherish all you have experienced and make everything you see from now on feel like the last boat ride on Spirit Lake.
Cascadia Day isn't just for Pacific Northwest residents; everyone can celebrate unique, precious moments.
Happy Cascadia Day!
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