February 7, 2008
My mother always said that one of the reasons she loved living in the Northeast was the lack of natural disasters. In the aftermath of the tornadoes that have ravaged the South, killing more than fifty people, I am once again reminded of nature's fury. Californian wildfires, hurricane Katrina, avalanches in the Northwest, flooding in Nevada… the news is constantly covering these tragic events and the damage they cause, both to the land and the people.
Maine is certainly not without its severe weather. Down East magazine, in the February issue
, revisited the paralyzing ice storm of 1998. And we've had our share of hurricanes-Donna, Gloria, and Bob-minor earthquakes, and tornadoes. But in comparison to other areas of the country, these have thankfully been relatively rare occurrences in our state.
I wonder if there is a psychological benefit to being out of harm's way? Having just moved from New York City, I must admit, that while the threat of terrorism wasn't actively on my mind, it was always lurking in the back. Every subway ride was not riddled with fear, but rather daily life was infused with a subtle awareness of vulnerability.
So, too, is Maine relatively removed from the daily threat of terrorism on its soil. As with natural disasters, we are by no means immune, but the threat level is lowered, the daily dose of latent anxiety, reduced. I used to reject my mom's sentiments as parental worry, that permeating obligation to protect your children at all costs rearing its head yet again. But now, especially given our country's numerous and recent battles with natural disasters and terrorism, I understand her words on a first-hand basis.
Somewhere within there is a calmness, an unwavering knowledge that the land around you in Maine is secure. Not immune, by any means. Not free from its own set of perils or our own neglect and abuse. But it is relatively secure. Perhaps this safety is integrated into Mainers' characters, endowing us with a sturdy foundation that at once gives so much possibility of adventure and exploration and so much security and connectedness.
I have much sympathy and concern for those suffering in the South-and I in no way intend to cast a net of superiority over this state. Each area of the country has many, many unique qualities that far outweigh any dangers incurred by residing there. Maine has its drawbacks as well. But as I watch the devastation, I find myself grateful for my own surroundings and the security they bestow upon me.