Although our city had already rocked to a larger, seismically speaking, earthquake five months earlier it wasn’t a life changing experience. After the 7.1 ‘quake on 4 September 2010, as a city we were cocky; we printed T shirts proclaiming we’d “Survived the Quake” and went on (and on and on…) about how tough we and our city were. Earthquakes, pah! Bring it on!
And then February 22nd happened. The symbol of our city, a cathedral so laughable in size and age when compared to those on the other side of the globe yet so central to what made us Christchurch, fell down and whole suburbs were broken and are now all but wiped off the map. And as for surviving: 185 people didn’t.
We’re not going to drag you all through what happened to us again, it’s already been told and nothing’s changed. What’s altered, though, is us – from what we were prior to the earth moving.
At 12.51pm on that day we were already an oddly close family with an over-large vegetable patch and a couple of chickens scratching up the back lawn. As the crashing and smashing quietened and the dust settled, being able to cobble together meals from a well stocked pantry and the garden augmented by our livestock’s contributions suddenly became more than a fuzzy The Good Life fuelled dream; it became a basic need. We now live the life we need to rather than living as we once felt we “should”. How strange that it took a disaster to give us that courage and insight.
As a family we debated how we would mark the anniversary. In the past we have taken part in the organised event, River of Flowers, but our strength doesn’t really lie in doing what everyone else does. Formal events tend to become open forums for self promotion and mud-slinging and we’re really not into that. So this year we grabbed a sunflower each and strolled down to the river 100 metres from the Homestead. We didn’t listen to speeches or join people swapping EQC horror stories, we didn’t write messages on a Tree of hope or observe a minutes silence. We simply took a moment to remember our version of the earthquake, sent a quick thank you to whatever it was that kept us all safe, and biffed our flowers into the river.
Then we walked down the beach and had a coffee at Crema – because it’s what we like to do.