Thursday, July 6, 2017


The house and grounds from the lane over the north field (rapeseed)

I awoke from a sound sleep. The bed was shaking, as if someone were standing there shaking it. And the metal drawer pulls on the dresser were chattering away. My partner was sound asleep and not moving a muscle.

Searching for some frame of reference, I was suddenly nine years old, lying in my little bed at home. I awoke in the middle of the night to a shaking world. My child mind thought that you could count on some things in life – a world that’s solid under your feet, for instance – and now my bed was trembling and the knick-knacks on my shelves were rattling. Then it was over as suddenly as it began.

I heard my dad out in the hall. “What was THAT?” I called to him. “An earthquake,” he answered in a baffled tone. An earthquake! Something teachers talked about but you never experienced. Earthquakes were unreal, happening in far off places to people you don’t know. But it was real all right. It happened in Montana in 1959 (here).

The house from the road over June's field (rape)
So, almost sixty years later – has it really been that long? – I was having a similar experience all by myself. I knew Mike was tired, so I didn’t wake him. He had ridden his motorcycle into town for a physical therapy appointment, and I knew the heat alone (103 in the valley, 96 here) was enough to tire anyone, even Mike. Bess keeps a watchful eye on things during the night, but apparently a little ground instability doesn’t bother her.

And then I began to question it. Did it really happen? Maybe it was a ghost? Maybe a spaceship landed and aliens (the kind from another planet) were seeking out signs of life. Now I was spooked and unwilling to get up even though I wanted to -- a childhood phenomenon I thought I had outgrown. I realized I had to look at the clock so that I could pinpoint the time – 11:35 p.m.

And then it happened again – this time with less intensity but definitely happening. The bed was shaking as if my partner were rolling over, but he was lying still. What an eerie feeling! The drawer pulls were rattling again this time more quietly. “Aftershock,” I thought to myself, “or Grandma Ina has finally had it with me living here in her place." It was 11:40.

It took another ten minutes for me to muster the courage to get out of bed. Once I was safely back with Mike, I eventually dozed off again. At 1:15 a.m., Bess awakened us with one of her barking spells: “Don’t you dare come into my yard, you worthless smelly so-and-so. I’m tellin’ ya – stay away from here. Bark! Bark bark bark.”

The stand of trees in distance is our grove.
Mike got up to quiet her, and I told him about the earthquake. “This is a dream, right?” he mumbled sleepily.

But – it wasn’t a dream. When I got up this morning, I used precious “internet juice” to search for online news reports. And they were there -- a quake occurred near Lincoln, MT, some 250 miles from Orofino by road (Hwy 12). The time: early Thursday morning (Montana is an hour ahead of us). The tremors were also felt in Spokane. KW


Hallie said...

Woa! Crazy. So bummed I missed it. The only time I've felt an earthquake was in 2001 when I was in Corvallis. I was in a morning biology class and started to feel a little light headed--a tad unstable. Then, a classmate pointed out that the lights were swaying and it was an earthquake. So, I wasn't lightheaded at all, but I don't think I would have noticed the earthquake if I had been alone. I'm not sure it counts.

Kathy said...

I think it counts. Earthquake tremors are unsettling, and we experience it physically. You were experiencing the quake but your body didn't know what was happening.