I’m one of the lucky ones.
Several of my friends lost their homes to the CZU Lightning Complex fire north of Santa Cruz (so called because it was started by a dry lightning storm) which began in the early hours of Sunday, August 16—and is still burning. The city of Santa Cruz, was thankfully spared.
But on Wednesday, August 19, Robin and I awoke to dense smoke in the air and a layer of ash covering our yard. I went online and discovered that much of Northern California was on fire. (Now, a month later, much of the entire Western United States is on fire.) A few hours later, Robin got notice that her 97-year-old mother’s assisted care facility near the Vacaville fire was being evacuated, so she drove up there to take her mom to a friend’s house and stay with her.
Then Thursday morning I learned that the fire was within a few miles of UCSC, just above our house, and that gusty winds were making it impossible to stop its spread. Containment was at 0%.
The fire district zone just north of ours was under mandatory evacuation orders. Our zone would be next if the fire continued to progress. I talked to Robin on the phone, and we decided I should fill the car with our possessions in case the order came.
So what to take?
Files, photographs, and important documents of course came first. But then what? I spent most of that Thursday (after going to my 91-year-old mom’s assisted care facility to pack up clothes for her, since they were now being evacuated, as well) making very hard choices.
And what I ended up choosing proved to a fascinating values clarification. My favorite shirts, my kitchen knives, my grandmother’s cast iron pots. Items of sentimental value. Memorabilia. Possessions that couldn’t be replaced.
Here’s a sampling of some other things I packed into the car:
In the end, we were thankfully not evacuated, and our home is safe. But those were some scary days. And if there’s ever a “next time,” I’ll be able to pack the car a lot faster.
So my question for you readers is this: What would you save?