I lived directly above the San Andreas Fault (that's the big one in California) for a while. Long enough to develop the state neurosis - never being fully comfortable in a house without an earthquake kit. Okay, that's one of two neuroses -- the other being Hollywood. The Powers That Be spared me that one, thankfully. As a kid, I lay on the floor at night to read well-thumbed paperbacks in the thin knife of light that crept under the door, and more than once leaped into bed, the book hidden under the covers, because of what I thought were angry, avenging adult footsteps stomping towards me, which actually turned out to be a ~ 4.0 earthquake.
One of my chores was tending the chickens, hardy half-wild brown and black striped aracunas who laid pale green and blue eggs and crouched and huddled with wary practicality before an earthquake. So I developed amazing earthquake-prediction-powers. I'm sure my mother, biologist, knew from whence these mysterious abilities came, but she always accepted my pronouncements with dignity, and gave me work trying to get the silver-rimmed china plates stacked on the barred and reinforced shelves, as pale blue and fragile as the eggs snuggled into their nests.Things broke, shelves fell over, we lost power, we lost water, there were fires, San Francisco was partly toppled. Never was a single chinablue aracuna egg broken, though.
February of last year, Seattle had an Earthquake, a 6.8. I was lounging upon xmurf's couch, trying to calm an oddly skittish cat (Celeste is normally as mellow as the fluffy white marshmallow she so closely resembles). The ground shook, a sudden surge of dizziness. My first thought was, "This isn't right, not here." Despite years of drills and thrills, of counting stored water bottles in the laundry room, and drawing water into all the bathtubs in case the aftershocks left us without power, of racing from chicken coop to kitchen, from doorway to bed, it was xmurf who got into the doorway first, braced us, shaking, while the l-waves danced the earth and the p-waves danced my heartbeat (Where, I wonder, does my bizarre enjoyment of the impossible come from? I didn't think to get into the doorway right away because I was enjoying the earthquake too much. Actually said, "Whee!"). And then, "I have to get to the hospital." -- we both worked there at the time, and we both still carry the blue plastic cards that say, "In case of civil disturbance, admit this employee to the hospital." Not quite the same color as the aracuna eggs, but similar, tiny white writing like the flowers on the blue china plates.
xmurf took the radio, of course. And we crammed onto a bus full of other people, Seattlites who had never felt an earthquake, a pair of frail aged Japanese who hoarded the word 'tsunami' between them, children looking about with wide-eyed wonder, wishing for better special effects.
I wonder if xmurf knows that Seattle, the city I love, is a living, breathing entity? Cute goth chicas on Broadway, and the crows that sit upon my shoulder, and soft gray rains, and whirling dry leaves, midnight movies and people arguing operating systems in crosswalks, ivy leaves on weathered concrete walls, ferns growing tenaciously between sidewalk cracks. Those first jarring moments when TV knew nothing, and phone lines were dead, and the electricty thrashing and dying, those achingly long moments where the information just stopped - my brother my family my home downtown i don't... don't.?. But surely he must have felt the nervous system of the city sweep him up, as he transmitted reports on Capitol Hill, received for the International District, the University District, for streets I'd never heard of, calm distant voices passing damage reports, most of them, actually, lack-of-damage reports. And how the Japanese couple with arthritic spiderclaw hands got a little less white-knuckled, how the children turned towards him and the adults looked away but listened. As each 'no serious damage here, either' report came through to be passed along, I thought of the pale eggs, half-hidden by sawdust, soft and blue and unbroken.
Today is what eeyorerin aptly calls corvi-and-neuro-pretending-to-save-the-w
I have eggs to safeguard, as well. Silver and green and blueblack crow-feathered ones, concrete and brick and ivy and fern.
Rambly. I should not post without sleeping first, I think.