Friday, December 12, 2014

The Quake, the Coyote, and Other Concerns

Carolyn J. Rose

 The Cascadia Subduction Zone has been quiet lately—too quiet. Scientists worry that the tectonic plates under the Pacific Ocean are locked up and will unlock not with a series of relatively small quakes, but with one massive temblor. A recent report suggested that I should be worried too, so I added the subduction zone to my sweat-it list.

But I put it near the bottom. There’s nothing I can do about the movement of those plates. I can’t prevent or ameliorate what’s to come. If the plates rip loose like a giant zipper, much of the Pacific Northwest will shake, rattle, shatter, collapse, burn, or be inundated by a tsunami.

If I obsess about when that will happen and where I’ll be and whether I’ll survive, I’ll lose a lot of sleep and gain a lot of weight. (Yes, I’m a stress eater.) What I can do is prepare for that day—stockpile supplies, stash cash, make plans for rendezvous points, and study up on first aid.

What I can also do is focus on smaller and more immediate dangers. For example, the coyote roaming my neighborhood.

Recently, in broad daylight, I spotted him (or maybe her) peering through the fence at my dogs. He didn’t hustle away when I shouted, but slowly slunk off. A day or so later a neighbor opened his back door to find a coyote a few feet away. And my husband spotted one trotting across a main street. These guys are getting bold and will likely grow even bolder as winter progresses.

But I can do something about the coyotes. I can take steps to take my yard off the top of their list of potential places to dine—turn on more lights, never let the dogs out unless I’m with them, watch for digging around the fence, make sure there’s nothing a carnivore would like in the compost.

I’ll also network with neighbors to keep up on coyote sightings. Getting to know the folks around me might serve me well when those tectonic plates unlock, the big quake comes, and we have to depend on each other until outside help arrives.

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