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,