Author: Morton, Randy

What's important.

Well it is 2:20 a.m. on July 9th as I write this column. We were notified a few hours ago that the Mill Fire is coming towards my home and that mandatory evacuation is likely sometime after sunrise but they are not sure when. The sky all around us is a haunting orange glow. I live at the very edge of the Mendocino forest and it is heavily overgrown. I had recently jumped on the tractor and scraped down much of my five acres. The biggest issue is the many pines that cover the property and all around the house.

When getting news like this, many things go through your mind. I am worried about all my neighbors and hope that they will be okay. The first thing I did is hook up to my fifth wheel trailer so that we will have a place to live when evacuated. I then took more of the expensive items around the property and placed them in the one area with no vegetation around it. So parked at the top of my property are motorcycles and my tractor. I figure if they survive and I need money I will have them to sell.

I had already advised my two children to pack the things that are most important to them. What they packed is a whole other column but they are items that mean something to them. They both are handling this as well as could be expected. I have tried to remain very calm so that they don't get even more anxiety due to me. I explained to them that most things can be replaced. The worst moment so far is when my daughter looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “I don't want to loose this house cause I was raised here”.

As the time came for me to think of the important things I need to pack up the obvious came first, all the photos that are a physical memory of times past. The second was my guitars. The two Martins are in the trailer as I write. Sitting on the couch are two more guitars that I hope I will have room for. One was a gift. The other is my first guitar that my uncle gave me when I was a teenager. There is much conflict when forced to quickly decide where all you have or own needs to be placed in order of importance.

Since packing up the things I believe to be important to me and my family I went though the house to find things that I have borrowed from others. I have made sure that they are packed. I think about the P.A. Equipment that belongs to my band. It is sitting in the little apartment on the side of the garage. There is also the cases of our cd's. I don't have room to pack them. I think of how the loss of those things will affect the members. I will contact one of them at first light and see if they can drive up here and load it up in their vehicle.

The next thing I did was to call all the people who own vacation home here on our private road. I know that they would be unaware of the evacuation order. Many are from the bay area and not one of them new there properties in danger. I called them just before 1 am and many of them are on their way up here now. One man I talked with began to cry and stated that there was no way to replace many of the things he has stored in his garage. Another I talked with advised he was currently in Vegas on a job. He advised that in his garage is a pristine trail 90 that is the only thing he has of his grandfather's. I advised that if I could figure out a plan and had the time that I would try to save it somehow. I feel bad for others I called and it went straight to voice mail. I hope there will be time once they hear to be able to make it here in time to save what they can.

Another thing that is worrying me is what I have forgotten. I cannot stop racking my brain for what I have missed. I am sure it will torture me the rest of this morning. In my mind I run through memories of my children's childhood. I think of the highlights and try to think if there something physical here that pertains to those memories. I do the same thing in regards to my own life. I have only thought of few things. One thing is an ugly cookie jar that belonged to my great grandmother. As a kid I always knew that when I went to here house that jar would be filled with no-bake cookies. A fond memory. I also have an old sewing machine that was the first item that my grandfather and grandmother bought when they first married. The last thing is an old Victrola that belonged to my other grandfather and grandmother. As I mentioned, there is much conflict in my mind at this time.

While I know that anything can happen in regards to this fire and the chances of the house being saved, all these decisions have to be made as if it were a forgone conclusion. It is obviously my hopes that everything will be saved but I have to plan for the worst. Where will I go if forced to leave in the morning. How am I going to get updated information while at the new location, worrying. How do diminish the impact on my kids. HAVE I THOUGHT OF EVERYTHING IMPORTANT TO PACK. I have done what I could for others up here. My mind stays racing at this time.

I do not write this to be dramatic in any way. It is just a first hand description of what goes through a persons mind while something like this is happening. I am sure many of you have gone through something similar. It is my hope that it causes others to think about what is important. All of life's other problems become very trivial. This computer will be the last thing loaded before leaving. Now it is just waiting to find out what today will bring. I hope and pray it is something good.
Posted:  7/9/2012

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