Living on Long Island, the eastern tip of New York, in 1985, anthropologist David Abram rode out a strong hurricane that littered roadways with fallen trees, cut power lines, and interrupted telephone service. For several days, he remembers, the people in his town were forced to abandon their automobiles and, if the distance wasn’t prohibitive, walk to their workplace or to the store.
This was, on the one hand, surely a time of inconvenience and frustration. But on the other hand, a rare natural disaster afforded the residents of the community a unique opportunity to reconnect both with each other and with the surrounding environment. Abram remembers that without the incessant din of internal combustion engines: