As I write this, every branch of the pine tree outside our apartment shimmies, rests, then dances again. The long grass trembles, cluttered with leaves and small branches, while small birds hop along the wind, hungry and tired after the departure of Hurricane Irene. The sky has finally shifted from a stormy gray white to a brilliant blue. Though we were fortunate to be 100 miles inland, this storm pounded us just four days after the 5.8 quake that rattled our state and half the East Coast.
I’m beginning to understand why it took three tries to found a lasting colony here. In A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia, Thomas Harriot sang the praises of the fertile land where the Roanoke Colony was attempted, but there’s no erasing the challenges of this beautiful, demanding environment. With modern NASA technology and internet communication, news about the earthquake, its epicenter and its strength were available within two minutes. Warnings of the hurricane started nearly a week in advance and preparedness undoubtedly saved lives. How could a few hundred colonists ill prepared for even daily life survive any disasters four hundred years ago?
We know it was a struggle — our history books and movies tell the tales of starvation and war. The Jamestown Rediscovery Archeological Project studies at the original fort and continues to learn about how the settlers lived, persevered and eventually prospered.
I’m quite glad they did. Where else would I meet a camel cricket and a stinkfinger in the same month that an earthquake and a hurricane struck?