Tragedy in Japan, devastation in NZ… and resplendent Spring.

Maybe it’s because I just got back from Rome and I’m leaving on Saturday for Guatemala, but I’m feeling particularly globally aware — and heartbroken by the horrific events in New Zealand and Japan: one place I’ve been & loved, the other I’ve simply admired from a distance. On February 22, in the midst of a shopping day, a shallow 6.3 earthquake rattled beneath the city of Christchurch, New Zealand – destroying one-third of the tidy city’s buildings and killing over 200 of its proud and plucky citizens.

17 days later, fifteen miles below the sea floor, the Pacific tectonic plate slammed under the North American plate, creating a rupture 183 miles long and 93 miles wide – about the size of my home state of Delaware. The massive shifting of tectonic plates caused Japan to lurch 13 feet closer to North America, sunk the island by 2 feet, and set off a tsunami that wiped out entire towns and villages. The death toll in Japan is estimated to reach 10,000, and these polite, restrained people are left reeling in grief…and nuclear radiation.

AP Photo/Yomiuri Shimbun, Hiroaki Ono

This was the world’s 5th largest earthquake, of 8.9 magnitude, and plenty more are predicted in the coming years along the volcanic Pacific Ring of Fire–and along our own West Coast.

The tsunami of March 11.

Maybe I’m paranoid, but the earth seems to be turning against us, and it’s hard to blame her. We’ve hardly been good stewards of the planet, fouling it with pollution and killing off most of our fellow earthly inhabitants.

It makes me think of a dog beset by fleas, flicking his skin to rid himself of the irritating pests – perhaps we’re just getting flicked off with earthquakes, snowstorms, tornadoes and droughts before we can ruin the whole place.

On the other hand, it’s glorious spring here in Atlanta – and it’s hard not to be dazzled by the performance. And to feel that somehow we might redeem ourselves with compassionate action — and prove worthy of this fervently lovely earth.

In that spirit,  I’m sending off a contribution to World Vision, who is on the ground in Japan and helping to rebuild – and leaving you with one of my favorite poems from e.e. cummings:

O sweet spontaneous

earth  how often have



fingers of

prurient philosophers pinched




, has the naughty thumb

of science prodded


beauty    . how

often have religions taken

thee upon their scraggy knees

squeezing and

buffeting thee that thou mightest conceive




to the incomparable

couch of death thy



thou answerest

them only with



p.s. Rome was great, Lulu was darling, and I gained about 10 pounds –pronto!

10 thoughts on “Tragedy in Japan, devastation in NZ… and resplendent Spring.

  1. Extremely well, this really is my personal extremely first stop by to your weblog post! I am several volunteers and also beginning a whole new motivation in a very community within the exact same specific niche market. Your blog site offered us all useful info to figure with. You have carried out any splendid task

  2. Oh, thank you for this post. I just came across your freshly -pressed article, then spent an hour or so going through your other posts. I’ll go back and look into the myriad of places you found and donated to. Living in Japan and having raised my kids here, I scrolled down to see if you had given to the Tohoku victims….and of course, you had. Again, thank you. Please continue to remember the country and the people, as it’ll be a long time in healing and rebuilding. Whenever I have time, I blog about Japan and the changing events that aren’t often covered in newspapers abroad. Take a look if you’re interested (notesfromhadano), and take care. You and your friends look like good people, enjoying life, and enjoying each other’s company. Glad I stumbled on your blog!

    • Thanks so much for your note, Ruthie! I can’t wait to read more about Japan on your blog and the Tohoku victims … it’s been on my mind ever since it happened, and I find it so heartbreaking that most of the people in the villages most devastated were older folks. Really appreciate your kind words!

  3. We were in New Zealand for the month of February and thankfully missed the earthquake in Christchurch – but not by much. We met so many wonderful people there, had great food, and found it one of the best cities in all of NZ. We shuddered at the thought of the enormous loss of life as well as the loss of countless historic buildings, including the cathedral in the town square. I keep a page on my blog called We Love Christchurch, with photos of the Christchurch we want to remember, not the town that crumbled.

    Welcome home, and safe journey to Guatemala.

    • Oh … I loved Christchurch so much when I was there years ago, too! It’s such a perfectly manicured, lovely city — so many gardens and beautiful homes … right on the coastline!
      I’m wondering if it’s as prone to earthquakes as Japan — what a disaster!! I can’t wait to see your photos of Christchurch on your blog!

  4. Betty – always good to hear from you, and a lot of good stuff here – beautiful photos as well, and thanks for the link for Japan aid.

    Enjoy guatemala – hope you’ll post about it once you’re home.

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