Karen Blixen and the Earthquake

Written from Kenya, dated January 8, 1928

Blixen1The strangest thing that happened here this week was that we had an earthquake on Friday night. It is true that it was only a footling little one; but for someone who has not experienced an earthquake before it was a special sensation all the same. I was in the bathroom getting ready to go to bed and my first thought was that a leopard had somehow got up into the loft; but when the whole house began to rock there had to be another explanation. Despite the fact that it is an uncanny feeling there is something, if I may say so, intoxicating about it, that something one has regarded as lifeless can start to move. You feel as if you want to pat the earth and talk to it: Well, so you are alive after all, old Earth!–Juma says he has experienced it before in Uganda, and then King Edward died the same day!–so now we must be prepared for great events.

Letters from Africa 1914 – 1931 by Isak Dinesen, translated by Anne Born

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