Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I am glad today was not a school day in New Jersey.

Those of us sitting on the state's udder, the tip of Cape May county, got a nice ride for less than we'd pay at Morley's, and countless afternoon chats under the sun made the surreal feel real.

Now imagine if we had school tomorrow--kids would be assaulted with seismographs, joule calculators, fault maps, Richter scales, and whatever else tools teachers could find to make the real become more abstract.

All that matters, at some level, of course, but for most kids, I imagine having a spectacularly lovely August afternoon off to replay a minute's worth of otherworldliness will make this one stick for a long, long time.

Leslie and I went for a nature walk afterwards--the monarch butterflies are back in force, the dolphins were feeding off the beach, a fawn played peekaboo with us, and we saw a hummingbird sitting on a branch. I saw an ibis grope through the mud, a muskrat waddle its fat August body through the reeds, and hundreds of dragonflies shimmered around us, showing off their magnificently colored bodies, only rivaled by the porcelain berries we saw on the trail.

Earthquakes matter because we have infrastructure. Get outside, under the summer sun, and they matter a whole lot less.

I wish the same could be said for hurricanes.

The porcelain berries photo by Josconklin, used under CC.


John T. Spencer said...

I've never seen anything like that. I know this will sound crude, but it seems like something from "Willy Wonka." I'm really intrigued by it.

doyle said...

Dear John,

By the porcelain berries? Gorgeous, eh?

(How do you tweet, post, and comment the way you do--are there 14 of you?)

John T. Spencer said...

Fast thinker, I guess. Probably not a good thing. Leaves me leaving fragment sentences like the last two.

I get my slow thinking time in when it matters. Today it was telling stories and watching the sunset while sipping slurpies. Doesn't get any better than that.

Jenny said...

My girls and I were out at a park with friends when the earthquake happened. The other two parents and I were pretty stunned by it but the kids were almost completely unaware of it. When we asked them about it the response was basically, "Huh? Oh, yeah, I felt something." Completely blase. It was interesting. They were all between the ages of 4 and 8 so I don't know if they were too young to take it in or just too distracted by the fun they were having. But I think they missed the power of it all.

By the way, out at a park was a great place to be. I wasn't worried about anything falling or breaking, I could just be fascinated during the quake, literally watching the ground below my feet shake.

doyle said...

Dear Jenny,

Great place to be!

We got outside quickly, so I got to compare inside and outside, though I suspect the waves may have been different.

Outside my brain was far more warped than inside--inside I had a better frame of reference. Outside, when the whole world quaked, gave me a better feel for the immensity of quakes.

Cool but scary!

Leslie said...

Next up on the agenda--hurricane. And I second Michael--the porcelain berries were one of the coolest plants i've ever seen.