by Carol Dunn
HUERFANO — When we moved to California, I was concerned about earthquakes. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and the only time the earth shook was during the demolition derby at the County Fair. My fear as a new Californian was that we would finally have the “big one” everyone’s been talking about for a century, and the earth would crack open and we would be swallowed alive.
I tried to push the thought aside, but it was always nagging me. I considered wearing a long rope around my waist and tying it to a big tree while I was outside gardening – just in case. And to keep us on our toes, we had dozens (more likely hundreds) of small earthquakes while we lived there. So I was pretty relieved when we moved back to Colorado, because we don’t have earthquakes here. Finally I could relax.
NOT. In October 2005, just a few months after we moved in, late at night we heard a familiar rumble. We felt the shudder. Lamps shook. I told myself, It can’t be. We don’t have earthquakes here. But sure enough, it was an earthquake, centered near Raton, NM.
Most of you who have been through earthquakes probably noticed you cannot sleep during a night tremblor. The jolting and bumping are too creepy – it’s like having your car towed away while you’re passed out inside. So during an earthquake you have to get out of bed and take a look around. Because maybe it’s NOT an earthquake. Maybe a dumptruck just ran into your house. You don’t know. Maybe your black velvet painting of Elvis fell off the wall. These things must be investigated or you will not be able to fall back to sleep.
Well, this earthquake surprise is totally not fair. I finally thought it was safe to put glass decorations on shelves. This is Huerfano – we’re not living on the fault line. I really must protest. After the first quake, I convinced myself it was an isolated incident.
Then, in August 2011 it happened again. This time more shaking. And a crack opened in the sidewalk. I figured this was it – the crack was going to yawn open and swallow the whole house. And we would still be stuck with the mortgage. Doom, despair and agony, oh me. Fortunately, the crack stayed small. It wasn’t even big enough to swallow any adobe bugs. Dang. So now I’ve convinced myself that these were just TWO isolated incidents; don’t burst my bubble.
Earthquakes and rural living do not go together, especially in Huerfano.
We have enough challenges around here without having the earth crack open and swallowing us alive – or swallowing our horses alive, or our barns. Although, I must admit, it would be handy to have some old rusty junk heaps and dilapidated buildings around here swallowed by a crack in the earth. It never hurts to dream up a silver lining behind the earthquake.