IN CASE OF EMERGENCY, OPEN IMMEDIATELY
I grew up in Earthquake Country, aka, California. I rode the subterranean roller coasters 6.9 Loma Prieta in 1989 and the 6.7 Northridge in 1994. Those devastating earthquakes left most residents with hair-trigger hypersensitivity. I developed an internal seismograph that would agitate itself into action by the slightest tremor or rumble. A cart being rolled down a hallway or a truck dumping open its gate would send me into a hyper-ballistic state of panic. I’d be positioned under a table or in a doorway long before discovering that the “earthquake” was only the cat jumping down off a tall cupboard.
Moving to Washington State I thought I’d left Earthquake Country behind. A few stable years went by in Redmond and my seismograph became less sensitive. I let the rumbling trucks roll by without even so much as a flinch away from window glass. And the cat? Hardly noticed his precipitous drops…until the Nisqually 6.8 quake in 2001. Within the first seconds of the shaking sensation my dusty internal seismograph sprang into action. After that earthquake I decided it might be a good idea to have a couple weeks of emergency supplies available in case our power and gas went out.
Thirteen years later we’ve got the back-up fuel, power and medical supplies all figured out and prepared, but I’m still struggling with food stores. I used to store my emergency food in a cardboard box in the garage. It didn’t take long before I realized I’d been feeding a small population of mice and ground squirrels with my special selection of emergency vittles. That cardboard box got swapped with a heavy duty plastic container and placed in a cupboard. It wasn’t long before another species of rodent raided the reinforced container. If you think we have an infestation of Rodents of Unusual Size in the Highlands, you’re right.
I had decided to stock Wheat Thins in our big plastic storage container, because who wouldn’t want comfort hors d’oeuvres during a crisis? Those crackers lasted in the garage for approximately three weeks. I remember coming home famished and walking straight from the car to the cupboard where I tore open the box. Bears? No. It was the giant rodent named Tami.
I didn’t replace the prematurely eaten stores of emergency appetizers, and I got to thinking about what I really want to eat during a two-week stretch of pseudo-camping at home. Protein is important, and so is food that doesn’t require a lot of fuel to cook properly. Dried beans would drain half a can of camping fuel in making them soft enough to eat. Canned beans would be gobbled in one meal and I’d need to purchase Costco proportions. But if I went the Costco route, would I really want the same baked beans every day? I’d have three dozen cans to eat, after all. On the flip side, if I stocked up on foods that were really attractive, the box of supplies would be paid a visit by “Ravenous Rodent Tami” again, and could be depleted before a real emergency kicked in.
So, I’ve determined that attractive crisis foods would never survive my impulsiveness and periodic raiding. For instance, I never replaced the spaghetti sauce from my lasagna night looting two years ago. Instead I opted for the tear-pouch of dried spaghetti sauce. However, unattractive foods would make the crisis even more miserable. There isn’t much comfort in the freeze-dried twigs and leaves they call camping food, and when Armageddon hits it would be nice to take solace in some appetizing sustenance, not survival grub. Eating astronaut food while backpacking is called “adventure”, but roughing it during a catastrophe shouldn’t have to be unpleasant.
With over half of my consumable provisions on the unattractive side I’ve forgotten to check in on them. One friend of mine neglected her food stores for ten years and discovered quite a few…err…”expired” items. Can you eat pasta that’s a decade old? If I’m hungry enough I’ll eat anything I suppose, as long as it’s not growing mold. When the next big earthquake hits, (causing me to jump under the dinner table like a groundhog that spots a coyote), I hope Rodent Tami has not eaten all our appetizing stores.