Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Unnaturally Natural

"Grams, what natural disaster scares you the most?" asked Sydney my granddaughter, age fourteen. "I'm afraid of earthquakes and tsunamis." About this time Gabby my granddaughter, age eleven piped up. "I'm afraid of fire and robbers." Hm. Obviously there is a need for dialogue here.

I stood upstairs in my bedroom back the lane on Neff Road. I know it was in the late '60s. No one was home except for me. I was stopped in my tracks as an almost human moan shook our house. I looked out the window as a rain, white as milk, was falling. Dad had just pulled into the lane when the tornado passed over our house. The storm created an uprooted path through my grandfather's woods to the little town of Painters Creek where it wiped out Bud Wyan's auto service garage. I know about the violent side of nature. Its eerie voice stays with me still.

It seems that every week when I have my granddaughters, another disaster has affected the lives of children. I always try to talk to the girls, so they can give voice to their feelings. Grandmas should be a safe place to unload, and I'm about as safe as safe can be. We have talked about safe exit from their home should disaster strike. Newtown opened dialogue that should never need to take place. We watched the tsunami hit Japan. And, now again, we talk of bravery, wisdom and survival. Sydney was quick to point out that Gabby's choices were not natural disasters. Fires were usually manmade, er, womanmade, er, made by the hands of people. As to tsunamis, we have a very high Coastal Range between the Willamette Valley and the blue Pacific. We have only had couple of earthquakes that were hardly felt. The largest fault lies off the coast. I've only heard of two twisters with only one on the ground since before my move here in 1978. We did have a mountain blow. Luckily Mt. St. Helens is a few hours away. Once in a while we have a mudslide or two. But contrary to belief, we are not even in the top 100 cities for yearly amounts of rainfall and rarely have lightning and thunder. If Mt. Hood goes, we will have air quality issues depending on which way it blows, and our Bull Run water supply will probably be affected. Considering that it has never erupted, we don't really know for sure what would happen. We are not big on natural disasters here.

Still we talk about nature and man living together. We continue to investigate ways that we can do it better. Because of my grandchildren, I try to be informed and let them come to their own conclusions, not mine. Because of what happens in the world, we learn to dialogue and search for not only the solutions, but sometimes we look for the questions.

Maybe next time we will talk about peoplemade disasters. I think we'll start with robbers.

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