This morning, March 11, 2011, began like most other mornings: I was sleeping peacefully, then I awoke. The insistent ringing of the phone arrested my slumber — at 5 AM. It was my grand daughter calling to tell me that a tsunami was on the way. Through the fog of sleep I tried to grasp her meaning. A large wave of water was moving in the direction of my little California coastal village, at a high rate of speed. Things could get very nasty, very quickly. She was already headed over the hill, to safety when she (bless her heart) thought of her old grand pappy and called to get him moving in the same direction.
Once I got the concept of the unthinkable firmly in mind, it was time to awaken my wife. She, level headed in the face of adversity, was immediately clear about what action to take: we leave, NOW! At that early hour nobody knew what might be headed our way. The TV news folks said that Japan had been hit by a massive earthquake, and that the resulting tsunami was probably on the way across the Pacific. It could be the apocalypse or it could be nothing, but it didn’t seem to make any sense to stick around and see. We had several guests staying at the Inn, so we couldn’t leave without awakening them, telling them what we knew, and letting them decide for themselves in what manner to meet their fate. We did that, then we joined the throng of neighbors heading in their cars to higher, and safer, ground. Of course Darby the Dog went with us.
Sitting by the side of the road at the top of the mountain, listening to talk radio for news, we had time to think about what it could mean, had this been a real emergency. We thought of the people of Japan, and wished them well. We thought of friends and family and what we would or could do, should a tragedy like this befall them. And we thought of all the things we meant to do to prepare for something such as this, most of which were left undone, having been assigned a much lower priority than the mundane tasks of living and running our business. Yet those tasks literally could have meant the difference between surviving a cataclysm, or falling victim to it, had this been more than a drill.
After several hours by the roadside, the critical moment — when the tsunami was scheduled to strike the coast — passed and relatively little actually happened in our part of the coast. Like many other temporary refugees, we started back to town, to our lives, and to an otherwise beautiful day. Yet somehow, it just didn’t seem the same. True, we dodged the bullet today, but the thought that it could come again, in any one of several forms (we do, after all, live only 8 miles from the infamous St. Andreas Fault), made us think about preparations. Somehow I think they will have a much higher priority in the near future.