Wednesday, September 2, 2009

While the fires rage

I haven't seen blue sky in a week. When we first get up in the morning, the air is thick and a strange color - not quite gray, not quite blue, not quite brown, and tinged with orange. It is the color of fire season in Southern California. I've lived here since 1976 yet I am never quite prepared for fire season. It creeps up on me while I am still enjoying summer - trips to the beach, picnics, outdoor concerts, lazy days by the pool, long enjoyable novels that will never make it to Top 100 Reading Lists. Suddenly the air is smoky, the winds kick up, evacuation orders run across the bottom of the tv screen and we are once again randomly thrown into nature's path. Some years, we see the plumes of smoke from the front yard - or the back - and we know that we have to be a bit more vigilant in following the news. Most years, thankfully, we look at the map and determine that we are not at risk.

When you live in Southern California, you have a mental list (if not a computerized list) of what to take with you should the evacuation order come. I have such a list. It is room by room; possessions are ranked by how important they are to daily life and how precious they are to family history. But I wonder if I would follow this list in an emergency. Could I really run first to the metal box with insurance papers, birth certificates, safety deposit box keys before I reached for my grandfather's oil paintings? Would I grab the photo of my oldest granddaughter even though it is safely stored on dozens of computers? Would I think of expensive jewelry or my wedding album? Would my husband and I waste precious moments arguing about what should be saved and what should be left?

The news is optimistic tonight that the largest fire, the Station Fire, is under control. However, the most dangerous time of the year is still ahead - September and October when the Santa Ana winds blow over our little part of the world. I don't think this fire season is done with us yet.

1 comment:

  1. Whoah, good thoughts. We don't have a list! I do wonder what goes through your mind. My guess is our hearts take over and we go more for the 'Grandfather's Oil Paintings" rather than the 'serious documents'. Hope you never have to find out what you'd do!