Within two days three things happened: (1) I finished clearing the long-time weedy mess of the shrubbery at the front of the house. (2) A young woman arrived with a bleeping machine and cans of spray paint. (3) Earthquake no. 13,811 woke me up.
After weeding the shrubbery it looked tidy but bare. I padded around the garden trilling, and rescued self-seeded baby foxgloves from cracks and crevices to re-plant in the empty space. I watered them in and stood back with a vision of a dozen or so majestic, colourful flowers in my mind’s eye. Overdue job well done, even if doing anything to or around the house is spitting in the wind, given its short-term and uncertain future.
Next day the young woman who brought the hi-tech machine wandered around the outside of the house with it. There was a-squeaking and a-bleeping, and soon there were red lines where the power lines are buried, and purple crosses showing where it was possible and safe to drill holes. The drilling is to determine the nature of the ground, and what kind of foundations will be required when the house is eventually re-built because of earthquake damage. After the woman had gone there was a purple cross in the grass at the back of the house, and another at the side. A third had been made unobtrusively outside the living room window. The fourth was in the middle of the patch of baby foxgloves, now trampled into the newly friable earth, and right across the biggest, bravest seedling of them all. Awww!
The quake that shook me awake was 4.6 on the scale, severe enough to rattle my wardrobe doors. There have in fact been twelve quakes in the last week, most of them unnoticed by those who have become accustomed to the ground moving after three years and 13,800+ quakes. With all the disasters and mayhem around the world right now, a few minor “events” as they have come to be called are very small beer indeed. But a quake that strong, after all this time, was a finger-wagging reminder that weeding and planting are pointless here while we wait for our city, our houses, to be rebuilt.
How petty of me to care. That I had bothered to weed at all. That I had spent all day clearing the space and filling it with new life. That when people come back to drill in the spots marked by purple crosses there will be more than a few baby flowers trampled underfoot.