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August 26, 2011

Earthquake and Hurricane

Roy Meachum

The 6.0 earthquake hit Market Street while Pushkin and I took our early afternoon walk; we had just returned from West Frederick Veterinary Hospital for the English Pointer’s biweekly acupuncture. None of the places I’ve lived in has a reputation for tremors; Tuesday’s was my very first.


At the exact moment, Pushki and I were visiting Atakan Yilmaz in his carpet store on South Market Street; Capa’s stocks more than rugs that don’t move with the ground. We were in the back office and the shaking furniture was out front. Being a native of Turkey, Atakan jumped up and checked hurriedly on the electronic desk equipment.


“That was an earthquake!” he stated, running up to the second floor; the old Pointer and I didn’t move. The 90-year-old building held firm. My friend returned, wild eyed and excited. He grew up in a land where tremors are rather common; New Orleans was built behind earthen levees to stave off floods, amidst bayous and a large Lake Pontchartrain. I took Atakan’s words very seriously.


But back on the street I received numerous confirmations; seemingly every person we encountered had a comment on the earth-mover. When we returned home and my computer, the Internet gave the size as 5.8, upgraded to 6.0 when all the shaking settled. Washington was hit two minutes before Frederick and evidently much harder. Government buildings, initially evacuated, were closed for the day. Metro trains and buses slowed to 15 M.P.H. for more than several hours.


It’s happened before. Events of great moments slipped through my blonde hair now grown bald. I’m not quick to comprehend. That’s my fate. My black-and-white buddy becoming older has patterned his habits and tendencies on mine, which is not necessarily bad. But not always.


On behalf of the patio’s garden, I warmly anticipate this weekend’s Hurricane Irene. I know Pushkin at best tolerates the summer rains that curtail our daily promenades. Whatever the weather, he’s ready to go, protected by his all-seasons coat. What he most minds is the lack of scrounging on Market Street. He likes best thrown-away pizza crusts, but they’re generally unavailable when rains close Frederick’s sidewalk cafes.


Of immediate personal tragedy was my youngest son’s prospect of being swept off to Nag’s Head; his strong wife planned to vacation at Michael’s favorite youthful spring hideout on the Outer Banks. She intended to remove the two children and her husband Saturday, as I learned minutes before the earthquake: “Dad, she’s already got the car loaded.”


The hurricane’s likely Saturday landing in North Carolina caused her to postpone to Monday, which relieves my grandfatherly worries. Mike’s still limping into physical therapy; as I wrote earlier, the senior paramedic banged up his foot stepping off an ambulance.(Son Roy stage-manages a show on a Norwegian Cruise liner in the Mediterranean, even as you read this – removed from the East Coast weather’s vagaries.)


My eldest son is a Howard County attorney. When I sent a story on the prospects for Hurricane Irene, Tom emailed back: “Gee, I hope this doesn’t affect my golf game on Sunday!” Since he was a tot, he’s always been the family’s punster.


At any rate, snuggle in.


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