I live in a fire prone area of California. Seems like everyone in California does… We had the Kincade Fire five miles from our small Napa Valley town. We chose to evacuate when we were advised to do so. Fortunately, we have family in the Monterey Bay area, where the ocean breeze keeps the air fresh.
We packed our best belongings, our small cat, Selma, and headed south. Leaving meant leaving the stress of being close to a fire. Leaving meant choosing the things that have meaning to you. Leaving meant being okay with leaving everything else behind. Leaving meant knowing that life is important.
This process of choosing and knowing the importance of life is a process I wish for everyone to go through. This process of ignoring our attachment to things, to dead things, that may burn, is vital to life. This process of being able to move on, to leave things behind, is a process of learning to let go. This process of understanding our place in Nature, which is much bigger and stronger than us, is urgent if we are to balance our lives with Nature.
Forty-eight hours later we return home. The smoke is gone and the fire danger as well. The trees and the vineyards seem even more fiery in color and the crisp leaves disintegrate easily by footsteps. We breathe air deprived of humidity, and our skin cracks by the touch. When we rake the leaves, the dust settles in our eyes and nose.
We have decided to leave California. After thirty five years in the Golden State with its warm sunshine, blue ocean and friendly smiles, we want to leave what it has become. It is not only about the fire. It is about the majorly congested freeways and roads, the unaffordable housing, the rising cost of everyday living, and the huge inequality between rich and poor.
What happened to living sustainably?
Here is a great article on the problems we face in the Golden State: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/30/opinion/california-fires.html