Residents have swept up broken china, and businesses have straightened and reopened their shop floors, since the Aug. 24 earthquake rocked Napa. But nearly a month after the temblor, a public gathering sought to offer Napans another kind of restoration — a return to a semblance of peace.
Thirty-two nonprofit groups teamed Sunday afternoon to create the Rebuild Napa Fair, where several hundred locals received guidance in coping with the stresses and anxieties of life after the quake.
From information on psychological counseling to massage tables, relaxation techniques and even advice on helping household pets find peace, organizers with Alternatives for Better Living described their hopes that Napa residents’ return to normal could keep pace with the fixes to cracked storefronts and collapsed chimneys.
Members of the Napa-based counseling program began planning Rebuild Napa and seeking partners only two weeks after the earthquake, said Dixie Jones, a board member for the group.
“I started talking with people, and I found a lot of people dealing with stress and anxiety” even as the days after the temblor stretched to weeks, she said during the fair at CrossWalk Community Church. “People are just now starting to realize they still have that lingering sense of dread. People aren’t eating right, they’re not sleeping, they’re starting to self-medicate.”
“This is the first attempt at rebuilding Napa emotionally,” said Jones, who appeared mostly unmarked from the earthquake — save for the remnant of a shiner below her left eye, the outcome of the shaking that pitched her out of bed and into her own headboard.
For some of the visitors, the wounds they hoped to close for themselves or loved ones ran deeper than a bruise. Jennifer Kirstine entered the CrossWalk church’s gymnasium hand-in-hand with her 4-year-old daughter, Macey, who had a shy, slightly guarded look on her blonde-topped face.
“Macey’s been having trouble since the quake, so we’re here to check out the counseling services, see if there’s anything more we can do to help her adjust at home,” said Kirstine. “She has nightmares, she think’s it’ll happen again — and in turn, we get no sleep either.”
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As mother and daughter arrived at the fair, they stopped briefly at an odd landmark near the front door. What had been a 9-foot-tall grandfather clock now was frozen at 3:20 a.m., its hands still fixed at the moment the West Napa Fault shook violently at a 6.0 magnitude.
“That’s why I showed her this clock, to let her know this happened to everyone,” Kirstine said, nodding toward Macey.
Its hands had gone still, but the long-case timekeeper had acquired a new purpose under the hands of the Napa sculptor Marissa Carlisle — as a homespun memento of the earthquake.
After receiving the broken clock from its owner, Carlisle had adorned it with the detritus of household goods donated by other Napans, according to Jones, the Rebuild Napa organizer. Cracked teacups, a baby stroller wheel, a framed drawing of a wine bottle and glass decorated the frame, while the back of the clock bore a new veneer — front pages of the Napa Valley Register in the days after the temblor.
A similar repurposing was underway for a similar purpose at nearby tables, where the Vallejo artist Sherry Tobin guided fairgoers turning throwaway shards into miniature mosaics.
One of Tobin’s visitors, Ellen Frediani, poured what was left of an American-flag coffee mug into a small paper bag, then hammered the pieces into smaller fragments. Beside her was a palm-size ceramic tile, along with a bowl of mortar that would fix the shards into a geometric pattern.
“There was sadness in precious things being broken,” said Tobin, whose first mosaic-making bee just six days after the quake drew 70 people. “But when people see they can smash it some more and make something beautiful from it, I think that’s freeing.”
“When I heard about this, I thought this was what I needed to do,” said Frediani, who lost kitchenware to the quake but was spared serious damage to her Napa home. “It’s just stuff, and I’m really lucky; a lot more made it through than got broken. It’s just stuff in the end, and it’s fun to be able to do something creative with it.”