After a couple weeks of minor rumbling, Mount St. Helens burped today: a short steam explosion accompanied by a small ash plume. The steam got to about 10,000 feet. The seismometers seem to have calmed down for the time being; perhaps the mountain will go dormant again for a while. It's worth nothing that Mount St. Helens held its eruption until the weather was clear: if it had let off steam in the last few days, fog and clouds would have obscured it.

But since today is a clear day, I'll note: out my office window, I can see Mount Baker, another volcano in the Cascades which periodically lets off steam, maybe 80 miles from here. It looks like one of those primordial mountains in the background behind artists' rendering of dinosaurs; smooth, snow-covered cone, flat top at the caldera... and you just know it's waiting for the right moment.

And to the south, so big it's often mistaken for a thunderhead, there's Rainier, biggest of them all. Biding its time.