Sunday, March 13, 2011

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

Joan Lambert Bailey said...

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.