The FLAMES in particular got my attention, once I realized that they were very close to my house. Considerably closer, in fact, than I was. Close enough that we had probably better get the hell out.
Attentive readers might detect a hint of exasperation in Arwulf’s message: “Good grief, Mother, does the neighborhood have to be ACTUALLY ON FIRE for me to get a ride?!” She has some justification, since we generally expect that the kids will walk the mile back and forth to school, even when the weather is bad. (And yes, the Extreme Conditions Exemption was invoked and she and her brother got a ride home.)
We were lucky. Now, while other neighborhoods are making the same scramble, and firefighters are hauling hoses around in truly hellish conditions, and some families are picking through the remnants of their homes, I have the luxury of contemplating the kids’ Go-Bags.
You learn a lot about people when you watch them prepare for potential disaster—hence, the enduring popularity of the “if your house is on fire, what (besides family and pets) do you bring with you” essay for college admissions and scholarships.
Colleges of America: Do not fall for the “I would grab the complete works of William Shakespeare and the polished twig I received from an orphan I befriended while building medical clinics in the Kalahari” essay. I can tell you for real what my children grab when their neighborhood is on fire and they have to leave FAST. In addition to a change of clothes and a toothbrush:
- Arwulf brought a stack of out-of-print books that she hasn’t read yet.
- Grimbert brought a satchel of portable electronics, music players, and their chargers.
For Arwulf it means that some piece of historical information will be lost forever. For Grimbert it means a lot of time waiting around with nothing to do.
Arwulf dreads Fahrenheit 451 and the destruction of human knowledge; Grimbert dreads that Twilight Zone episode where the sole survivor of planetary catastrophe, thrilled that he is at last free to spend the rest of his life reading, breaks his glasses.
I think these are both entirely plausible definitions of apocalypse.
Be safe, people.
** Certainly compared to 2007, when we were displaced for four days and bunked with extremely generous and supportive friends, who welcomed a house party that totaled 6 adults, 8 kids, 1 dog, 1 cat, 3 rats, 2 snakes, 1 bearded dragon, and a couple of guinea pigs.