For almost forty years now, I have been preparing for this point in time, when I would have to pick and choose the items I wanted to take with me, you know, as keepsakes from another era.
With all of the fires raging within the county, it still came as a thunderbolt on Wednesday morning, when the mandatory order to evacuate Bell Springs Road came down, effective from the nine-mile-maker, north. We are exactly at the five-mile-mark.
What are four miles here and there among friends?
Visibility in the orange glow of the apocalyptic setting, was reduced to a matter of a few hundred feet, with the air so choked with smoke as to make any thought of being maskless absurd. If the ashes streaming down upon the scene were droplets of water, we would not be having this discussion.
“Important papers,” said Casey. “Pictures,” suggested my friend Denise and “Annie’s quilts” said Amber, all of which made sense. “Take clothes for a week, because you don’t know about laundry service,” suggested Casey.
My initial thought was that I would have to be facing a wall of fire before I would deign to leave, but I have responsibilities today that I did not have only a few days ago. I have hooked up with Denise, a school chum from back at my old high school in La Puente (SoCal), and the air quality was such, that Denise had to flee.
Having spent somewhere in the neighborhood of sixteen hours traveling from SoCal to Bell Springs, over the previous two days, including dealing with a shut-down Highway 101, to see me, I could not allow Denise to flee by herself. When she first left her home, I had no inkling that this fire-or any fire-would be a factor.
We packed up what we could fit into Denise’s Toyota, including the two resilient dogs and headed north to Eureka. Prior to leaving, Denise made reservations at the Red Lion. It is a good thing she did before we left, because by the time we got there the hotel was booked solid.
Evacuees were the name of the game, and finding a place to land was the primary objective. Fortunately, being a dog-friendly business, the Red Lion and we are good to go.
Back home, Casey and Lito, backed up by Ben (up from Willits) and nephew Alex (a firefighter up from Sebasketball), are prepping the eight homes within our complex. They are peeling back brush from structures and cutting down trees that are too close to homes and buildings.
As of now, Casey says the winds have turned back against the fire, so for the moment we are at a standoff. Saturday is the day of reckoning, with the fire supposed to arrive at our spot. I brought my watercolor paints up to Eureka; I am going to paint a basket of tomatoes and pretend that I am on vacay.
Prior to leaving, I took a photo of my just-completed, screened-in front porch, you know, as a keepsake.