Friday, October 19, 2012
the day the earth roared and a baby smiled
on tuesday night, the second night of my trip to vermont, the earth stirred. then it roared.
we missed it, though. didn't hear a thing. didn't feel the ripples radiating out from the epicenter three miles below ground, in the crust of the north american plate, twenty miles west of portland, maine. but much of new england did.
within a minute of the 7:12 p.m. earthquake there was even more rumbling. online rumbling. my daughter's facebook page came to life and vibrated with exclamations: wow, did you feel that? that felt like an earthquake! and we thought our furnace was exploding and sounded like a freight train tearing past the house. a friend of hers from down south knew about the quake before we were able to confirm that it was an earthquake. she wrote just heard maine had an earthquake. that had all of us—my daughter, my son-in-law and myself—checking our iphones for the latest news.
close to the epicenter in maine, hanging lamps swayed to and fro. silverware rattled in a drawer at my niece's house in portland. elsewhere windows shook as if poltergeists had risen out of the ground to cause a ruckus—a little preview of halloween. in freeport ed told me our dog, lille, ran to the door, hackles raised, and barked and barked. people felt and heard the earthquake in boston and new hampshire and in towns south of us in vermont. in the hills above richmond, though, everything was quiet. did the mountains surrounding us, and hills under us, act as a buffer and cushion the tremor?
on the day the earth roared i watched my grandson smile, and i smiled, too, as i listened to him coo his baby songs. the day the earth roared i took care of him while his mother was at work. the day the earth roared i fed him bottles filled with his mother's milk and wiped spit up off his chin and poop off his bottom and settled him in his bassinet and folded his newly laundered baby outfits into neat piles.
on that day, deep under the earth, rocks more than a billion years old—give or take a million—scraped against each other, heated up to the point of melting, split, and made a lot of noise.*
on that day, my grandson had been in this world for exactly three months.
*a scientist was on the maine show "207"after the quake. he brought in rocks found along maine's shoreline that had cracked and melted in earthquakes. they originated deep within the earth's crust, rose to the surface as mountains were formed, and were dragged to the sea when glaciers scoured the land. the rocks were marked with fissures and smooth dark lines where they had melted all those eons ago.