Patricia Fuentes Burns’s post about what she would save in case of a house fire caught my attention. After getting children and animals out of the house, what would I grab? Patricia mentions her laptop (all the jewels of happy events captured on the hard disk) and her daughter’s much-loved Bunny who still gives comfort after five years of hard work.
I went through a similar thought several years ago when bushfires threatened our city, especially those of us who live in outer suburbs. (This was before DD was born.) It was a return to fear that I’d experienced as a kid living in the bush. The sight of smoke spiralling into the sky and forming a grey cloud of apprehension would make my heart sink like a stone. Standing in the school’s playground, we’d all point to far-off smoke and wonder who’s farm was threatened.
As an adult who hasn’t lived on the land for years, I was gripped with panic again on those hot January days. No idle fear, that. Over 500 houses were burnt down, Mt Stromlo Observatory was reduced to ashes, and four people lost their lives.
Between filling the gutters with water and hurriedly sweeping up gum leaves from the front garden, I packed a box ready for evacuation which I placed beside the front door, next to the cat carrier. In the box I had my childhood photo album, our wedding album, insurance and mortgage documents, a few more photos, some albums of sheet music, a battery-operated radio and that was it. In retrospect, it seems that I assumed I’d have time to run to get my jewellery (such as it is!). No clothes, no books, no electrical items, no toys.
That’s right. None of my childhood toys that were sitting in the hall cupboard. My brown woollen teddy bear, knitted by Mum’s best friend, would have been left behind. Ditto my two dolls.
Now as a mum, I have to say that the contents of the box would remain pretty much the same, but my daughter’s much-loved comforting kitty would be there, too. How could I put a price on a knitted cat that helps my daughter sleep, helps her deal with sickness or simply a rough day? Although I have lost touch with the person who gave her the kitty, I still think fondly of her when I see the happiness that one stuffed toy can give a girl.