It has a lot to do with today’s post. Today, I am in Portland, Oregon, where I have had my home for the last thirteen years. I live on the East side in a little pocket town that borders on the Columbia Gorge. If you google The Columbia Gorge today, September 5, 2017, you will find that the Gorge is being gobbled up by a horrific wildfire. Since last Saturday afternoon we have lost over 10,000 acres of some of the most beautiful forest and hiking lands in the US. The entire Portland area is shrouded in dense smoke and neighborhoods are heavily dusted with ash. The fire is 0% contained at this point.
This morning, Tuesday, we woke up to the fact that the Eagle Creek Fire, named after the trail where it started, had exploded overnight and had not only crossed the Columbia River and ignighted the Washington side of the river but had also moved ten miles closer to my neighborhood. By noon my friends’ neighborhood, just ten blocks away, was put on “yellow” alert to evacuate. That is the “Get Ready” stage. Next comes the “orange” or “Get Set” level. After that it is a “Red” alert meaning “Go” and you had better do just that. Ten blocks away was close enough for me. I decided to pack up and leave, especially with the air quality being as poor as it was. My “gentleman caller” of thirty years, Carl, has a nice home about 10 miles further west and I could bunk with him until whatever happens, happens.
So, what to cram into the car? If we have another “explosive episode” with the wind, whatever I put in the car might be all that I have left. You really can’t grasp the notion until it stares you in the face. Of course you cram the “important” stuff into a bag. The passport, vehicle titles, checkbooks and bank cards, the house information and insurance information. Then what?
That’s where my Mother’s purse comes in. My Mom would clutch her purse no matter what. Cocktails….sure….there is was on her lap. Visiting friends….there it was on her lap. How about checking out a mine shaft…..yep….gotta have that purse! Kind of like Queen Elizabeth.
After my Mom passed away 5 years ago, I found I now had her purse. Well, I had several of her purses, but this was the one she used while we took care of my Dad in his final days. I just couldn’t give it away, or worse yet, throw it away, so what? What do I do with it? Without thinking about it I just started storing little tokens in it. Her “Chicken Wrapper” rainhat, a remaining knife from the set of flatware we used when I was a kid. An envelope filled with the little notes, clippings and quotes she relentlessly saved. Her passport. Her address book. Before I realized it, I had a Mini-Museum of my Mom, all neatly assembled in one place.