Wildfires and Life Lessons

I’m sitting on my couch right now, listening to wind that’s blowing up to 87 mph, nervous that I’ll be leaving soon. Some schools were cancelled this morning and I had to call into work – something I don’t like to do. D got off work early and was able to borrow a work truck. By the time he got here, I had already packed the car full, and had things waiting to be loaded. The fire was only 500 acres at the time I first heard about it, but moving quickly and un-contained. Now, five hours later, it’s burned over 2000 acres, over 18 homes, many outbuildings and is still 0% contained. Over 200 firefighters are on site, with 200 more coming in from California. Air troops are on the ready, but with winds this high, they have to wait by helplessly like the rest of us.

There are also 2 other fires – one very close in another direction. The larger fire is less than 6 miles from my home and, although I know it may not ever reach us, our neighborhood is one of the next to evacuate. My neighbor recommended that I take pictures of the inside of the house for insurance purposes (which I did) and quite a few are either ready to leave or already have with a few remaining that will stay til the bitter end if need be. One problem with leaving is that we may not be able to get back to the house once we’re gone. It’s a one shot deal unless the fire is contained.

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All our most prized possessions were packed first, then clothes, shoes, and miscellaneous items. In the face of a disaster, it’s odd what you determine holds value. As I packed, I was relieved that we are minimalists. We have less to lose, less to pack. The struggle is that what we own is what we value most. Instantly I knew what we’d miss most, what to get, where it was located and how much space we’d need. The space we have is a car and the bed of a truck. Everything else could burn and – although we’d miss some things and have to replace a lot, it would not be devastating. The memories we’ve built, the things kids have made, the hope chests, the Christmas ornaments we’ve accumulated over the years, birth certificates and paperwork that is difficult to replace, photo albums – all got piled high in the vehicles to exit stage left if the fire gets too close.

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And now we wait. Once the initial fear and action are over, what takes over is a looming sense of potential dread. The not knowing if we should be leaving or when. If we should get a room somewhere for the night so we aren’t dragged out of sleep in panic. Not knowing if the reverse 911 call will come. Hoping the worst case scenario is that we have a bunch of stuff to unpack. It also leaves us in a home with nails where pictures hung a few hours ago, shelves with items we deem important now empty skeletons and closets and dressers empty of the little we own. We know we have options of places to go, people who love us and our family is safe. Right now, that’s all that matters.

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