Monday, April 19, 2010

We are no match against the powers of nature.

Local news was featuring the expected "Where were you when the quake hit?" stories. Without doubt, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake just over the Mexican border will be felt quite strongly here in Southern California.

We were all at Alex's house, following the Easter worship service. We had gathered for our annual family Easter dinner. The day had been enjoyable. Ethan was the picture of a little child at Easter...chocolate all over his hands and face, and everyone took turns cleaning him up. And everywhere he went, and everything he touched, he deposited chocolaty fingerprints. His light blue suit was spotted with Easter bunny residue. We expected to enjoy the leg of lamb dinner that Alex's wife was preparing. We would be eating between 4:00 and 5:00. I was just crossing the threshold between the family room to the pool patio when the earth beneath me began to move. I have described a high-frequency noise that, frankly, is difficult to describe. The rumbling in the ground, as well as the house, is unforgettable. I thought it would never stop. We all went outside, and the pool water lapped over the edges. I briefly looked down at my feet, which were moving back and forth, and I rode out the quake as if riding a skateboard. Alex sighed and said, "Shit! This was a big one!"

The sounds of car alarms and sirens always follow such an event. My first instinct was to go home to see if the house is OK, but I had no idea where the epicenter was, or if overpasses would be collapsed. The power stayed on. We turned on the TV, and bulletins soon went out about the quake, which was centered in Baha California, Mexico. Those who are more experienced with earthquakes know to expect the aftershocks.

It's very unnerving to try to eat dinner with the knowledge that the house is going to shake again. But we did eat dinner. We had leg of lamb with all the trimmings. It was cooked perfectly, but the entire meal was clouded by the concern of aftershocks, and the desire to find out as much as we could about the quake. The aftershocks came and there will be more, but we go about our lives.

There was little evidence of an earthquake at home, other than a few small items on the floor. Oscar hid under the blanket. We never lost power and the roads were clear. David was working, and other than rattled nerves and dishes, everybody came through it unharmed.

But there have been other quakes this year. It makes me wonder if we're gearing up for the one that everyone fears will strike, and is overdue.

The eruptions of the volcano in Iceland make me realize how helpless we are against nature. I won't try to spell the name of the volcano; I'll call it "E". I am reminded that this planet, although 4.5 billion years old, is still evolving. And it will continue to do so long after my human remains exist as atomic particles now part of other substances on the planet. While this volcano has erupted three times in recorded history, it has always been followed by the eruption of a much larger volcano, Katla, which will erupt with a force one hundred times that of the present "E" volcano. We've waited nearly 190 years for another eruption, and I wonder what the effects will be.

Just as I felt when the solid earth moved beneath my feet, people look at the two Icelandic volcanoes and feel the same sense of powerlessness. I wonder what the dinosaurs thought when [enter personal theory here] was happening, which drove them to extinction. In spite of all we control, we are powerless against the forces of nature. I will continue to do all that I can do, to be all that I can be, and let somebody else worry about the mortality of our species.

* * *

I wanted to include a word about my spring vacation. I enjoyed several days with my friends Devin and Jeff in Pensacola, Florida. We did a lot of time talking and laughing. Devin and I spent a lot of time being tourists, and there is a lot to see. We even went to Panama City Beach and had lunch at Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville. If I had anything bothering me before spring break, it didn't follow me. The food was first rate and the company superb. I'm happy that Devin has decided to visit me in June. He believes that we should get together as often as we can, because we might not have the chance to do it tomorrow..

When I got home I went with David to the condo, where we enjoyed a few days together. It rounded out an already perfect vacation from all that surrounds me. My head is clearer and my mood is greatly improved. I don't know where I would be without these people who have blessed my life.

I now want to focus on a post about Bali. I began writing when I was in Florida, but things like fun and good company got in the way of my being able to finish it. It seems like years behind me now, but reading what I have written brings it all back.