An excerpt from a reporter’s story of her personal experience in North Alabama of the historic tornado day, April 27th, and its aftermath. From NASA Science News, thanks to Steve Beckow.
My question: must we wait for disaster to gather? Has our technology suckered us in to solipsism? I suspect that when our discovery of electricity gradually blocked the view of the night sky we lost our innate sense of mystery. And that this loss had profound, unintended consequences. “The world is not a collection of objects but a communion of subjects.” — Thomas Berry
April 30, 2011: As time allowed over the next few days, I worked on this story outside under a shade tree in daytime and inside by candlelight at night. Though I stayed busy the rest of the time heating water to wash dishes, waiting in long lines to buy ice and gas from the few stores with generators, and checking on my elderly parents, life had, in a sense, slowed and quieted. No televisions blaring, no air conditioners humming, no weed eaters buzzing. (The extra gas was needed in cars.) Even the dogs were unusually silent. I’ve never slept better.
In any other circumstances, you’d think we were all enjoying an extended holiday. People were out all over town walking to the store, biking, visiting with one another. And they kept their good spirits and sense of humor through it all. One neighbor posted this sign.
In the evenings, our neighbors brought the contents of their defunct refrigerators and freezers over to share, and we cooked out on grills and the camp stove. Communities all over town had similar gatherings. My 86 year old father, who cares and cooks for my semi-invalid mother, reported each day on what their neighbors had brought them for supper. “We’ve been eating better than we ever did with my cooking!” he said.
At night the city was so dark, it was like living in a different century. I rode my bike under the stars. Replacing the gaudy glare of incandescent lights, a soft glow of candlelight issued from the windows of neighbors’ homes. Some families gathered around backyard fires. And with not even a moon in view, I saw stars I’d never seen before. There above me was the whole Milky Way!