May 18th 1980. I am 9 years old and winding down my third grade year at Sarah J Anderson Elementary School. We lived in the city but somehow had a large back yard with an old shed and some goats. Beyond our yard we enjoyed a garden area and filbert (hazelnut) and apple orchard along with other neighbors. My younger sister and brother and I were looking forward to summer lazing in the garden and chomping on apples fresh off the tree.

Instead we were confined inside. Children were advised to stay inside for months and everyone was urged to wear a mask. The most devastating natural disaster in US history happened nearly in our backyard.

Vancouver, Washington is just outside of Portland, Oregon in southwest Washington state. Being a few miles west of the Cascade Mountains saved our lives on May 18th, 1980 at 10:00 am. Mount St Helens violently erupted blowing the top of the mountain off the the east side of the state and beyond. If the mountain had blown to the west much of my childhood town would have been obliterated.

A close family friend of ours had gone camping that weekend with a group of friends. He miraculously survived and has relayed his story to magazines and news outlets for years. It’s a chilling tale of anguish and tenacity (Look up Dan Balch if you are curious about his personal story. Or read the )

What I remember most that summer is the goats. They would climb on top of the shed right before subsequent smaller eruptions. I stood in the backyard and saw the 9 mile high plume of ash a few days after the initial eruption. For decades local artists sold clay pots made of volcanic ash and tiny vials could be bought by tourists. 

Even after 42 years I will never forget the date May 18, 1980. It’s a reminder of the power of mother nature, heeding warnings (we knew for 2 months the eruption was imminent) and giving everyone a hug as they head out.

It’s also a reminder that photography is important. Photos tell a story of land, wildlife and people that we hold dear. The Mt. St. Helens of my childhood will never exists again except in photos and videos.

Since high school I’ve had a camera in hand. I’ve photographed my kids, my neighborhood, wild areas and animals. That childhood neighborhood is gone, my kids are grown and wild areas have expanded and contracted, and animals have come and gone.

But I have the photos for me and for others to enjoy and remember. A reminder to enjoy all the moments with loved ones, to conserve our natural beauty, and to protect wildlife and wildlands.

In my wildlife and nature photography endeavor I record photos and videos to highlight and showcase wonders near and far.

At Silver Paw Studio I memorialize you and your pets so you can be instantly transported to this moment again. I am here to photograph your family and pets in high resolution to create prints, albums and digital images you can share now and keep as precious legacies forever.

Are you ready to tell your Tales with Tails? Call, text or email for your free planning meeting.