This guy below was not like my dad, who was Catholic and, arguably, Buddhist. I did not live in this house, but I experienced this day, and watched the mountain from outside Portland.
This is an odd book. For those not interested in roleplaying games or werewuffs or vampires, I invite you to check out the Oregon chapters, like this one; for those not interested in either Oregon or Dungeons & Dragons-type stuff, yeah, give it a pass. I’ll keep making additions to the chapter page, but I won’t announce most of them.
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The next morning dawned as sunny and warm as the day before. Steve joined his parents for breakfast in the kitchen. On Sundays, they tried to eat together in lieu of going to church. When Curt, a Catholic, asked him about his religion a couple years ago, he’d given some evasive replies, and Curt declared him an Agnostic. “Religion,” said Steve’s dad once, “is like collecting ancient postage stamps — not my hobby. I guess someone’s got to make it their business. But people don’t need religion to be good, and it won’t keep them from being jerks. My religion is a fine day on the river and a view of the mountains.”
The sun was just over Hood, and Steve’s mom had abandoned her plate to sip coffee by the bay windows overlooking the rear yard. Her long auburn hair glowed in the light, a few stray translucent strands waving free; she still had on her bathrobe, but she held herself with the severe dignity she always managed. Two streets below, a cul-de-sac poked out to the edge of a slope, and a small crowd of people had gathered there, shielding their eyes and straining northeastward. Steve approached the window for a better look. “What are they doing?”
His mom extended a finger past her cup handle. “Something big’s going on. It’s the mountain.”
“The mountain” usually meant Mt. Hood, but that’s not where the crowd directed their attention. A fat column of slate-gray cloud thrust up out of St. Helens’ white skirt, the top pointing eastward. His dad got up from his chair, and turned on the fourteen-inch TV at the kitchen counter. An alarming closeup of the volcano was being shown, with the local news-station logo underneath: the cloud boiled with growing fury.
Steve’s dad turned up the volume: “…As many as forty researchers still remain within the restricted zone. Experts say that everyone should remain as far from the mountain as possible. Roads are being closed in a wider area and travelers rerouted west. People are ordered to evacuate the Toutle and Cowlitz drainages, as volcanic flows may cause those rivers to crest at record levels. The ash is expected to fall on Yakima within hours. Crowds there have already begun stocking up on particle masks, and duct tape to seal windows. We now bring you a professor from the US Geological Survey to explain what is happening…”
“My God,” said Steve’s dad.
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