Skip to main content

Aftershocks and Nuclear Power Plants

My list of posts for this week included topics such as gardening while on crutches, starting seeds, plum blossoms (pictured above), a book review, and a few notable food/gardening moments from our trip to America. Earthquakes, tsunami, nuclear power plants, aftershocks and rolling blackouts never crossed my mind. At least not until last Friday.

While my husband was peering over the edge of the Kandagawa to see what a giant koi might look like, I was at home working on an article for Summer Tomato. My Achilles up on ice and my brain word-smithing away at my memories of the Dane County Farmer's Market, I felt a bit of a tremor. I paused as we'd had a similar one earlier in the week registering somewhere around 7 on the Richter scale. The shaking kept going and seemed to get stronger. I got up and started to make my way on my crutches to our bedroom to get under the desk. The shaking increased, and while part of my brain thought I was overreacting another part thought this was a great idea. Halfway under the desk and the shaking intensified.

Confession time. I totally panicked. Somehow with my crutches I grabbed the bottle of water and dashed outside. (Mistake number one.) Part of me still thought I was overreacting, but I was terrified. Skipping shoes (mistake number two) I dashed down the stairs to the street below. Outside the world rattled and shook all around me. The power poles danced and the lines over my head swayed. The ground under my feet undulated. And it wouldn't stop.

Neighbors stood outside in the street, too, all looking scared like me and all saying "Daijoubu." or "It's ok." Clearly, it was not ok. Neighborhood stray cats dashed about looking for shelter, and my neighbor's cat growled it's displeasure as she held it. I closed my eyes and kept whispering a plea for it to stop.

Upstairs I found our apartment strewn with books, a few jars, and a dish or two. Only two things broke, neither of which we were greatly fond, so it worked out. I donned my shoes, coat, and put on the backpack that contains our earthquake kit. I spent the next few hours waiting for Richard outside, and the time after that in half dashes to get under a table. Aftershocks - some stronger than others - woke us up regularly. I slept in my clothes.

Now, a handful of days later the aftershocks still come (a rather strong one just now), and I continue to do my half dash. Rolling blackouts are scheduled to begin sometime today, and we watch the news of the nuclear power plants up north. Helicopters and planes steadily go north, and I send as much hope and heart with them that I can. My home stands, my loved ones are alive and well, and I am, by comparison, extremely well off. I am grateful.


Unknown said…
Joan, thank you for your heartfelt account. I cannot imagine. We are glad you are OK. Take care. Sybil
Thanks, Sybil, for reading and being in touch. It's meant a great deal to us to know that so many people are out there pulling for us. I also feel mildly ridiculous saying that considering we've had no tsunami, and the rolling blackouts haven't even started. We'll stay in touch.

Popular posts from this blog

Finding Heirloom Seeds in Japan

Drying pods of heirloom Hutterite Soup Beans. Since moving to Japan eight years ago, one of my greatest challenges as a farmer-gardener has been to find heirloom or open-pollinated seeds. The majority of seeds available are not GMO (genetically modified organisms) as Japan, at this point, doesn't accept this material. Most seeds, though, are nearly all F1 varieties. Heirloom and F1 Varieties In plant breeding, F1 is the name given to the first generation of a cross between two true breeding parents. For example, if I decide to cross an Amish Paste Tomato with another heirloom variety tomato such as Emmy, in hopes of getting a gold paste tomato, the resulting generation of fruit is F1. In order to get that tomato of my culinary dreams, I'll need to choose members of that first generation that are headed in a direction I like - early ripening, medium-sized fruit, good taste - and save their seeds. I'll plant them and repeat the process again and again over time unti

Satoimo: One of Japan's Favorite Slimy Things

Satoimo in all their hairy glory. This post first appeared in slightly different form on Garden to Table as part of the 2012  Blogathon . The website has since moved on to the ether, but the post is still a good one. After all, people here are still eating satoimo on a daily basis, and many others are just seeing these little potato-like objects for the first time. Enjoy! Satoimo is one of Japan's odder vegetables. Under it's rough, slightly furry skin is white flesh that is a little bit slimy even raw, and with a gentle nutty flavor.* Baked, grilled, steamed with dashi, or deep-fried satoimo stands well on its own or paired up with other vegetables and meats in a wide variety of soups and stews . (The leaves are also edible.) Satoimo stores well, and like any root crop worth the effort, stocks are just running low on this household favorite as the farmers in my area of Tokyo get ready to put a new crop in the ground in May. I cannot say I was a fan of this l

Goma Ai Shingiku - Sesame and Chrysanthemum Greens

Last week I had the pleasure of helping some friends work in their parents garden not too far away. Tucked behind the house, the garden sits on a former house lot. When it came up for sale about five years ago, my friend's father jumped at the chance. Open land in Tokyo can be hard to find and expensive, but for a retired professional looking for a little spot to till in the city it was an opportunity to good to pass up. Now, it is a garden to envy. As we came through the gate rose, lily, and peony blooms greeted us with great shouts of color while rows of vegetables stood tidily at attention on the sunny center stage. Small fruit trees along with one of the biggest sansho trees I've seen yet stood quietly here and there. Near waist-high sweet corn, bushy young potato plants, cherry tomatoes, eggplants, and beans were preparing their summer fruits, while a handful of still quite luscious looking winter vegetables like komatsuna, mizuna, and kabu held one last ro