It seems strange, on a day we were shaken out of bed by another major earthquake, to blog about food or the garden. But I also feel like I’ve blogged about earthquakes so many times in the last six years, that I have little more to say about the experience.
However, every quake has its own character, and I find each one affects me differently.
This one struck around midnight last night. I must have been half awake, because I remember anticipating it, as though I was listening to it rumble across the plains. It started as they all do, with the jolt of the first shock wave. It built to a powerful roll, then stayed there, rocking the house like ocean swells, for almost two minutes.
I had no need to get out of bed; bed is, after all, one of the safest places to be. But as the shaking continued, my curiosity got the better of me.
It wasn’t enough to experience the quake in bed. I needed to feel it more. To know it better, if it was going to hang around so long. I stood in the bedroom doorway, gazing into the moonlit living room. The door frame swayed under my hand, and I felt as though I were on a ship, a hand on the railing, riding the waves.
There was time to feel each wave as it rolled through the house. Time to anticipate the next roll. I fell into rhythm with the swaying house.
And still the waves came. The house and I moved gracefully with each one, dancing in the moonlight.
And because the quake was distant enough, the S-waves came separately, like the gentle sloshing of a bathtub after you’ve stepped out. Like a long, quiet coda fading into silence.
After the thousands of quakes we’ve experienced in the past six years, we knew that the quake was huge, and farther away than previous ones. We knew that somewhere, people’s lives had just been torn apart. Somewhere, that gentle rocking had been a fierce shaking.
But for me, there had been no fear in that quake. We met, we danced in the moonlight, and then it was gone.
In the morning light, we assessed the damage—there was little. Our water is brown, but that will settle when the aftershocks end. But morning brought the news reports and photos of devastation. My heart goes out to everyone who has lost a home, business or loved one. To everyone stuck in towns surrounded by landslides and broken bridges. To everyone who spent the night shivering on a hilltop listening to the tsunami sirens. To everyone who worked through the night and through the day to clear the mess, help neighbours, and rescue those trapped. To everyone who will spend the next five or ten years clawing their way back to a normal life.