More shaking

Yesterday we were waiting for our daughter to come pick us up at our hotel. We were standing on the sidewalk in front of the hotel and I had a bag of laundry in my arms. My wife noted that I was rocking the laundry back and forth. The notion gave us the giggles. I wasn’t holding the baby, but there was something in me that had me treating a small bag of laundry as if it were a baby. A few minutes later I was rocking back and forth once again. Even after my motion was brought to my conscious attention, I kept up with the rocking. We’ve noticed that motion in other settings as well. Somehow, from the time that our first child was born, we both developed a bit of a sway when we are holding something that is about the size or weight of a baby.

I remember making a trip during the time that Susan was pregnant. Being in a city larger than the small town where we were living, we went shopping for a rocking chair. We finally found a chair that we liked and could afford at an unfinished furniture store. We carefully loaded the chair into our car, which took a bit of thinking and arranging. When we got home I set to work, applying stain and sealer to the chair. That chair is still a very prominent piece of furniture in our living room and we both love to sit and rock. It was an important piece of furniture in our family story and both of our children were rocked for many hours in that chair.

A big wooden rocking chair is not a piece of furniture that either of our children have ever owned. When they had infants, however, both families have had an elaborate device that cradles the infant. The machine has a motor that can move the device in a variety of different patterns with adjustable speed. There is also a feature of the machine that makes different sounds. The device has been carefully researched and designed to mimic some of the motion that a baby experiences inside of the mother before it is born. We’ve learned to set our grandchildren into the device where they sleep peacefully as the machine gently rocks the baby.

Of course when we visit, we prefer to hold the baby. Adding two additional adults to a family gives more time for holding the infant and so we pick up the baby and rock it in our arms. There is absolutely nothing that feels as good as having a sleeping infant held against your chest. We’ve been soaking up the feeling as much as we can during this visit, knowing that we soon will be far away from our new grandson and not available to pick him up until our next visit.

Yesterday, the gigantic movements of tectonic plates deep beneath the surface of the earth provided us with another type of rocking. We felt two earthquakes. We later learned that the first was 5.4 in magnitude and that we were only about 15 miles from the epicenter of the shake. It was the biggest earthquake either of us had experienced. Susan was holding the baby at the time and we both were sitting in chairs, so there was no danger of falling. A pair of pots fell from a rack in the kitchen, which made quite a clatter and a canister of breakfast cereal fell from the top of the refrigerator scattering Cheereos across the kitchen floor. A few spices in the cabinet fell from their appointed shelves and some plastic bottles of baby lotion toppled from a dresser. There was no damage other than the cereal canister, which was broken in the fall. Our daughter had been napping and was awakened by the shake. She reported that it was the biggest quake she had ever experienced as well. About a half hour later a second quake, measured at 4.7 and just a couple of miles farther away than the first one, gave us another rocking.

The baby slept through both quakes. The baby is used to motion while he sleeps. A little rocking in his world is completely normal for him.

Later, as I walked the dog through the neighborhood, I looked to see if I could discern any damage, but found none. The trees kept all of their branches. The birds were doing their normal activities. The houses seemed to all be in normal states of repair. There were no cracks in the ground. I wondered what the quake felt like to those who were in taller buildings. Our daughter’s home is on the first floor of a two-story apartment building, but there are some apartment towers a few blocks away. I suspect the motion was a bit more intense on the 10th floor.

Japan is an area where earthquakes are frequent and the Japanese people have learned to take the shaking in stride. From time to time there is a really big quake, most recently the one in April of 2011 near Fukushima that caused a huge tsunami and resulted in the deaths of more than 15,000 people and the meltdown of a nuclear power plant. There are mudslides and huge damage to buildings. More than 250,000 people were forced to flee their homes with many still being out of their homes four or five years later. That quake was the largest ever recorded in Japan at 9.0.

As a result the Japanese have developed engineering techniques for making buildings resistant. The famous seven-tiered pagodas are constructed in such a manner to withstand the motion of earthquakes and techniques based on that style of engineering have been employed in constructing office and apartment towers in the cities.

Having lived most of my life in a place where earthquakes are much less frequent, I doubt if I will ever get used to the motion. I’ve suffered no harm from the ones i’ve experienced, but doubt that I’ll ever get used to it. Our grandson, on the other hand, took no note at all. He’s used to the gentle rocking of his world.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!