What I See, part 12 by Karen Joy Fowler
I’ve been reading about the staggering numbers of people missing in Minami Sanriku. Apparently the tsunami was channeled and focused by the walls of bay on which it sat. This helped me understand why, halfway across the world, Santa Cruz was also considered to be at risk.
I wasn’t here on the 12th. I was in Idaho at the Rocky Mountain Writers’ Festival and away from the news so I learned quite late about the Japanese earthquake. When I saw the magnitude listed on the television chyron, I thought it must have been a misprint. Today even that unbelievable number has been raised. But my husband says that locally it was a non-event. There were big waves, he says, but we’ve seen bigger. The beaches were closed, but surfers turned out in large numbers and people lined the cliffs with binoculars and cameras. A young man died in Crescent City trying to see the waves, but I’d have done the same thing if I’d been here. I would have wanted to see.
The media are breaking the news of nuclear meltdown in tiny increments—a slow drip of disaster. Like the aftermath of the gulf oil well, I suspect we will never completely comprehend the damage done here. It will be with us into another generation and beyond.
Meanwhile the waters in the bay here are calm. The mustard in the park has grown taller than my knees, which means Mojito can disappear into it. There is a crow building a nest in a leafless tree. Ponds have appeared where there were no ponds and many of the paths are muddy and impassible.
When we first moved here, the rock out past the lighthouse was covered in sea lions. Then they left it to the cormorants and pelicans, went to live noisily under the pier at the wharf. Last week I saw a single sea lion back on the rock, the first in nearly a year. I’m waiting to see if she’s a harbinger or an outlier. Sea lions are caniformia, or dog-shaped animals, but MJ admits to no fellow feeling.
Karen is also moderating the Tiptree Book Club discussion of Maureen F. McHugh’s story “Useless Things.”