Thursday, November 1, 2012

Finding Calm

Our Internet service is spotty or non-working. It has actually been getting worse. Phone calls get dropped or never get through. Uploading pictures via the mobile phone had not always worked for more than one picture. As soon as possible I will post with pictures of our trip to Ft. Tilden.

We took Coney Island Avenue south. The roads were mayhem. Maybe 50% of the traffic lights were out. One block it will be working and the next will be out and on and on. People are generally calm, but there is a lot of unexpected behavior on the road. Aggressive people push well beyond the limits of order. There were only two intersections with traffic police. Double parking is more common than typical. Gas lines where gas exists run out into streets and around corners. Horns blast.

I couldn't help feeling calm at the beach farm. This is why we live on, why we visit the ocean. Among the broken buildings, felled trees, newly formed lakes, and dammed debris flows, there is seductive beauty, a powerful feeling of well-being.

I grew up with an awareness of the destructive power of the ocean. Countless storms driving water into and over parts of the island. Homes built on twelve foot tall piers appeared ominous to this child's mind. As a teenager, a skepticism settled in, and those pictures of homes falling into the ocean became illustrations of hubris.

As a young man, it became clear to me that shorelines altered by home building or overuse were severely affected by our winter and summer storms compared to the relatively untouched coastline. The evidence of this is present at Ft. Tilden today.

In 2005, in Japan, we visited Kamakura, south of Tokyo, on the coastline. With mountains rising out of a crescent harbor, the city is a second home community for city-weary Tokyo residents. People live right on the sea.

High up on the hillside, a bronze Buddha, the Kamakura Daibutsu, sits calmly. In 1495 a tsunami of great size ran up the hillside and washed away the wooden temple. Buddha remained in place, seated, and eternally peaceful. The town below was wiped out.

When I returned to New York I asked a Japanese friend why it is that people continue to live so close to the water's edge given their long history with watery disaster. She replied rather easily -because it is beautiful.


  1. I know that Buddha and nothing washes away my angst, my stress like waves. But I still wouldn't live that close.

    1. Visit is how most of us do it. In studying satellite images of Fukushima, it becomes clear that not all want to live right on the coastline. Town was set back considerably, trees left to grow along the coast as if a buffer to slow any inward rush if water.

  2. Frank - I'm glad you made it to the garden. I went yesterday, too, and was shocked how well everything withstood the storm - I mean, my kale was standing tall and strong! And that darned compost heap is still there!

    Our house a mile away didn't do so well, and we may be fleeing to Florida next week. If I don't get to see you before we depart, I'll check back here periodically to read how the garden grows.

    Joanna (blonde woman, frequent biker, Plot C-9)

    1. Joanna! I've been thinking of you, and wondered if you lived on the peninsula because you bike to the garden. I'm glad to hear you are ok and I am terribly sorry about your home.

      I saw Jimmy on the news! Please let me know if you need anything. Email me at


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