Laying in the dark of a seaside hotel room, the wild Pacific Ocean eating away at the bluff just beyond and only thin blankets and old wood walls for protection, fear grips me without warning. I feel her like a storm front looming offshore, her presence weighing the stuffy air down around me like she’s watching, like she’s waiting, like she’s as aware of me as I am of her.
Even as I acknowledge how silly this is, that I’m anthropomorphizing the convergence of tectonic plates (even gendering it!), still I find myself praying into the darkness, Ave Cascadia, full of rage, your sisters in slumber are with thee. Sleep, Cascadia, keep sleeping, at least for one more day…
If we had known about the Cascadia Subduction Zone a thousand years ago, five thousand, ten thousand, would we have worshiped it? Would we have conjured a wrathful goddess of rock and wave as I have, burned offerings to her on the rocky shores of the Pacific Northwest to buy her mercy? And would that belief have conjured her forth? Given her life in truth?
Laying in a rented bed in an aging lodge in the heart of the inundation zone, I can believe it. I feel her out there: Cascadia, crowned in fire; Cascadia, mother of mountains; Cascadia, who swallows the earth in her wrath. Cascadia, whose waves will kill tens of thousands when next she stirs. Who could waken right now and I would be helpless, an insignificant little flea scrambling in the cold, chaotic darkness to reach high ground in time.
I am always aware of Cascadia. Here in the dark, with the waves crashing just yards away, it’s hard not to feel like she’s just as aware of me.