A few things from the past couple of days:
1) New Zealand paused yesterday at 12:51pm for a two minute silence for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. Thousands of people gathered in the centres of their towns, or just stopped where they were to pay their respects. I was home with Petra – two minutes of silence isn’t easy to manage with an excited 3 year old on hand, but I did it.
Looking at the pictures of crowds standing, heads bowed, I was impressed and touched all over again, as I have been throughout the week, by people’s kindness, generosity, and grace. Or as my inner ten-year-old muttered so eloquently, “People are good, really.”
Here’s a picture of people observing the silence in Dunedin’s Octagon.
2) The knocks, they keep coming. Here in Wellington, we were rattled, in more ways than one, by a 4.5 magnitude earthquake last night. Earthquakes are pretty common in New Zealand and we felt quite a few during our couple of years in Costa Rica; I’m not usually too concerned about them. I know about getting under tables, or standing in door frames or curling up in a ball somewhere away from toppling hazards, but I’ve never put those things into practice. I remember being woken up years ago by a fairly big one that lasted a good couple of minutes, thinking, “do I need to do anything about this?” and deciding that no I didn’t. So I just lay there, unconcerned, feeling everything move and listening to my furniture banging against the walls. I no longer have the luxury of that kind of innocence, or ignorance.
Last night’s quake was short and sharp – the dishes in the dishwasher rang and clattered and I heard a noise like a truck labouring up a hill. We didn’t even figure out what it was until it was over. It was the sort of earthquake that people don’t always notice, the kind where you go to work the next day and ask, “did you feel it?” and most people say no. But we all noticed last night’s quake – we’re on edge and an earthquake’s no longer just an interesting, even exciting, event or a test of your observational skills; it’s a potential killer. Apparently many people rushed out into the streets to escape and the police received lots of anxious calls.
3) And we had some wild, stormy weather in Wellington today – gale force winds and squalls of rain. The kind of gusts that mean you need to keep a tight grip on your small children if you don’t want to see them scudding off down the street. The harbour was an ugly gritty grey with ominous-looking white caps this morning. A particularly big wave hit one of the little commuter ferries that sail backwards and forwards across the harbour, nearly causing it to founder. A passenger was swept overboard and had to be rescued by the Worser Bay life guards, who were fortunately close at hand. And every else had to be taken off the boat by a harbour tug and the life guards. Photos show the ferry looking very small and fragile indeed in the choppy seas.