Peering through the truck’s windshield at 5:30 Sunday morning, I saw what looked like dancing snowflakes falling from the sky. Sadly, it was ash, grim residue from one of the largest wildfires in California history. Mandatorily evacuated a couple of hours earlier from my humble abode in the Montecito foothills, I was currently waiting in a nearly deserted mall parking lot for dawn to arise.

In the cramped, packed vehicle, I used the pre-sunrise moments to reflect on the current situation. First and foremost, I was grateful for the heroic efforts of the firefighters who’d been combating the blaze that originally started a week ago in neighboring Ventura County. And, there was the army of volunteers, providing face masks and other forms of assistance to those displaced.

Gazing at the boxes and bags occupying floorboards and seats, I also thought about their contents: What did I bring? And, Why? Obviously, for some items, like clothing, they were a necessity (even though, I did manage to forget socks!). But, as the clock was ticking during the evacuation process, I did find myself prioritizing what I truly had to take with me. What was the most important? My list:

Two large bins of photographs, decades worth of memories with family and friends

My computer, keeper of files, correspondence and drafts of my manuscript, Little Red Wagon

A couple of pieces of art

Pillows, blankets and towels

A filled Dopp Kit

And, go figure, a jug of orange juice

By now, the sun was trying to show its face through the hazy morning sky, just enough for me to see the Macy’s sign attached to one of the mall’s larger buildings. I texted a friend who met me for breakfast and kindly offered a place to stay during my life’s interference. Over grits (yes, there’s a place in Santa Barbara where one can find the Southern staple), eggs, biscuits and bacon, my friend asked, “So, why are you driving a pickup; where’s your little convertible?”

Yet, another reason to be grateful; my car was in the shop for minor repairs and the only rental option was a large, white truck. Thus, I was able to pack more things – and, even help others too – during the evacuation.

Love and light,


Ash, resembling snow and sleet, from the wildfire in the Santa Barbara area covers a mall parking lot.

32 thoughts on “Evacuation

  1. Carolyn Milks Schrote

    So sorry Tony. Let us know where you land and how things turn out. I will keep you and all the folks battling the fire and the ones that had to leave their home in my prayers.

  2. Vicki Morris

    Love and Light your way all the firefighters and others who had to evacuate and all the friends helping friends and strangers. Stay safe, keep us updated and I pray your home is safe. Much love Tony.

  3. DeAnna Coffield

    It is all about God’s perfect timing. The convertible was in the shop because he knew you would need that truck… Love you my friend! Glad you are safe!!

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