The Winds

How to decide? Which paintings? They’re all my babies. Some are crying louder than others. But some are smaller and easier to carry. The really big ones, the life-size figures, are going to have to fend for themselves. But one is of my mother and another of my daughter.

Dark, gray, ugly smoke is swirling in the wind and Nixle keeps texting and emailing. Fires to the west, north, east and south. We have been alerted. We either have to evacuate or we have an evacuation warning. The maps are difficult to read. The overlay destroys the highway and street names and some of the geography.

Either way, we have to stop doing the dishes and shuffling papers. We have to pack valuables, put on fire-safe cotton clothes and try to remember our Scout lessons. But I am not prepared and I don’t want to figure out how to prepare. Who can decide what to leave behind ~ which paintings, drawings, sculpture and writings. I don’t have a U-Haul and that’s what it would take to save it all. t just want to make more coffee and go out to my garden or curl up and watch TCM.

I call my daughter and she offers to help and she offers her very fit boyfriend’s help too. It gets me to at least consider packing a few things they can move somewhere we hope is safer. I go about the next day in my own brain haze. I pack flashlights, a radio, instant miso soup, masks of course and then I unpack and pack again. I even take matches and a candle. You have to be kidding, matches? Finally I force myself to go to the studio and decide. I practice tough love as I wrap my work in pillow cases and rags and stuff them in boxes. I grab sketchbooks, portfolios, museum boxes and a guest book from exhibits. There are still The Ladies, the big mamas. I cannot even carry them much less pack them.

My daughter and boyfriend and their dogs drive up and stay overnight because the wind is temporarily favoring our direction and their air was barely breathable. The next afternoon they somehow make room in their small car for a selection of my boxes and files. The rest I will have to haul if I have to leave. And then, I will have to leave what I cannot haul. I can only hope fair winds blow and not the bad boogie winds from the northeast. But something’s telling me, yelling at me, “Don’t you guys get it? I wish you luck but guess what ~ it’s really all a toss-up.”