What I love about this odd little corner of the park is its pastoral passivity armed with electrical eccentricity. The pony chomps on grass growing between a stand of golden bamboo and a whimsical wall, angled out and up, floating well away from "true," its windowless side painted as stacked geometry, broken crockery. The pony could care less about anything outside the fence, including me and my anxious little dog.
Listening to the wind knocking in the forest bamboo, I stand for some long moments, staring at the oddly askew wall and thinking about cracks that appear when the earth moves suddenly and unexpectedly, splitting rock, shifting down to up and up to down, wondering if the Hayward fault will move again soon. When today, it does . . . a 4.0, with its epicenter near the Clark-Kerr campus of UC-Berkeley, shakes the Easy Bay. . . I am left thinking about grazing, grasping, and dining on air.
The eating habits of horses and alpacas, even those confined to an urban fairyland, are somewhat predictable, but the dietary needs of our beloved planet earth are perhaps less obvious. No matter how hard we try, we can't seem to grasp just what our beloved mother earth needs to keep from belching unexpectedly.
An alpaca is happy to eat dew-soaked grass; a horse overjoyed to find a bit of alfalfa mixed with her oats, but when the earth opens its jaws, grinds its teeth, and swallows a sidewalk or two, we can never be sure if it's had enough, which is why earthquakes -- even the smallest little ones (and a 4.0 is itsy-bitsy) -- can be unsettling. We have no way of knowing if the earth will be satisfied with this tiny bite, this salt-shaker shiver, or if she might demand a second far grander course, a main dish of bridge girders, elevated train tracks, or highway overpasses. We hope, of course, that our beloved mother will be content to munch for many months on this small bite, this micro-meal 4.0. No damage from this bit of earthquake grazing. Our lawns, our meadows, our pastures, our hearts will easily recover.
Update: 8:15 p.m. 3.9, a strong jolt. The jaws are still working. The teeth clacking. Not really a nibble.