Sitting in my sunny backyard yesterday, contentedly grading student papers and sipping a cool glass of apple juice, I was jarred by a low, growling rumble, similar to the kind of sensation that resonates through my small street when a large truck speeds by. Thinking it was nothing more than this, a UPS delivery truck or some other load-bearing machine, I sat still and tried to focus on the paper in hand. But another few seconds passed and I could tell this was no ordinary truck trundling along the asphalt. The sound was deeper than that and more extended. I began to feel a shaking under my lawn chair and within second the windows in my house were rattling, threatening to pop or crack. I hopped out of my chair and tried to think what to do….An earthquake? In Baltimore? It was unheard of.
I doubted my senses and thought, again, that maybe somewhere someone was demolishing a house or setting off explosives. The whole episode of sound and fury lasted about 10 seconds but in that 10 seconds all I could think about was: what it the safest thing to do in an earthquake? As I stood in my yard, looking at my dog who was fast asleep and missed the whole phenomenon, the earth shook, and bounced its voice and power off the structures and people who inhabit its space, and then quieted, reminding us all of its colossal power.
I waited a few more seconds to see if it would happen again and then ran inside. I flipped in the news. Nothing. I logged onto the ‘Net. Nothing. And then I popped over to Facebook and saw that a few friends had already posted the same question I posed: Was that an earthquake? Holy cow…Within minutes the airwaves were saturated with details of the quake, which registered 5.9 on the Richter scale. Its epicenter was near Richmond, VA, and its force was felt as far as Rhode Island and Ohio. The quake evacuated buildings, schools, and even the Pentagon. Phone lines and cell phone towers were so clogged with callers that I could not reach anyone for over an hour. Thank goodness for texts, which went through as normal and allowed me to contact the people I love….
One day later people are still bracing for an aftershock, still scratching their heads at the bizarre and scary situation of yesterday. Even though the earth on which I stood moved and my house moaned and groaned a bit, nothing fell from the walls and no apparent damage was done. But now, along with flash floods, ice storms, blizzards and the occasional hurricane that affects our world here on the east coast, we have to add one more reality, earthquakes. All I can say is thank goodness is was so mild and appears to have done little damage. So far, we are a little shook up but all in all just fine.