With the fires to the west, north and east of us more or less under control, the skies have returned to a more normal summertime blue, undimmed by smoke or haze. Even the fog is being kicked to the curb by a high pressure system and we are on our way to another heat wave. But to the south, in
Big Sur and , the fires rage on, consuming thousands of acres, jumping fire lines, roaring closer to towns and homes. Evacuation orders wobble between mandatory to recommended and back again as the fire lines advance, retreat, curl back around. Goleta
Most people in the affected areas by now are prepared, cars packed and pets close by, ready to drive out at a moments notice. I look around my house, wondering what I would pack besides the kids (if they were home), the cat, (if I could find them) and the essential documents (ditto). My laptop, of course, Norm’s sculptures, the small cat figurines the kids have given me for my collection, some of the art they’ve made, some photos, the few prints we have. But beyond that…well, suddenly, the 100 Things system has an obvious practical side. If I'd gotten with the program, I'd have already shed the clutter and crap and figured out what I couldn’t give up. Yet even then, would I put even half of those things in the car, if I had 20 or 30 minutes to get out? I doubt it. When the fire comes, most objects become non-essential; life itself is what counts. While photos and works of art cannot be replaced, I would rather have the kids, than the kids' watercolors or photos.
But let's not dissemble here too much: I do like my things. I’m a packrat, descended from a long line of packrats. I haven’t met an object yet that I could reasonably refuse to house. (This is why I have a spouse; otherwise I’d be living in one of those houses with narrow paths between towering collections of … stuff.) In due time, I’m sure I would pine for the antique settee, the 1000-plus books, the few odd things from my grandparents whom I never quite knew, the deer tooth from a best buddy (yes, someday, sometime, I'll tell that story), the entire collection of cat-figurines, the mirror framed in carved-wood maple leaves that has hung in my bedroom from the time I was knee-high to a grasshopper. I’m sure regret and loss would have its day with me.
But maybe I should take advantage of the situation, and use the threat of fire as an impetus. Perhaps I could evaluate things on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 designating those objects worthy of a spot in the car and 10 designating what I would gladly let burn. And if I’m smart, I’ll remove all the 10’s well before we're ever ordered to evacuate. And if I’m super-smart, I’ll load all the important photos onto cd’s and put them in a fireproof case with all our birth certificates. Once I find them. Sorry, kids, I know they're here somewhere.