I was sitting in a meeting in the school library when the whole room swerved onto the rumble strips. We bumped along for a thrilling thirty seconds before we regained control of the building, and when it was over I knew I had experienced my first earthquake.
In the aftermath everyone there whipped out a phone, but the mobile networks were all overloaded and had crashed. I went to find a land line so that I could check in with Heidi at home and fortunately I was able to reach her right away and although there was a lot of alarmed cussing, everything was fine. "Holy shit!" she said. "You should have seen Penelope! That cat was running all over the house looking for a place to hide!"
"I don't blame her; it was an earthquake!" I said.
"No!" she told me. "This was before anything happened! She totally knew it was coming!"
Later we learned that the quake was 5.8 on the richter scale, centered 83 miles to our southwest, and also that there was very little resulting damage or injury. Even so, they were evacuating a number of local buildings and the federal government was shutting down. That seemed a little like closing the barn door after the horse was gone to me, but I guess they didn't have a Penelope to alert them beforehand.