|Recession of the Nisqually Glacier at Mount Rainier|
Early in the spring semester while working at the University of South Dakota, I started making plans for my summer in Washington. I wanted to go back to Olympic National Park and Mount St. Helens. Also, I wanted to visit Mount Rainier for the first time. That mountain had watched over so much of my life, but I had never been up to it.
Accompanied by my family, I was able to keep all my plans, and I had a great time doing it. Still, I couldn't shake the feeling that I was losing old friends and the state where I grew up.
Global warming is tearing apart my home state this summer with drought and heat. Two weeks after I visited Olympic National Park, one of the wettest places in the world, a massive fire started there. Days before I visited Mount St. Helens, the state Department of Ecology declared that Washington's snowpack was at zero percent of normal levels. Sure enough, the only snow I saw on that trip was at the top of St. Helens and in the volcano's shaded crater. Then, days before I went to Mount Rainier, a news story ran about the mountain's disappearing Nisqually Glacier. I was sure to take pictures of the glacier and its recession on my trip because I wasn't sure how many more chances I'll get to see it.
I was glad about my choice to visit these icons of Washington this summer. Global warming is changing them, and I needed something of the way they were to keep as a last memory. That's what we must do when we say goodbye.
Rain, moderate temperatures, snow: The band has broken up in Washington, and in the words of singer Michelle Branch, "Goodbye to you. Goodbye to everything that I knew. You were the one I loved, the one thing I tried to hold onto."