"an elegant tapestry of quotations, musings, aphorisms, and autobiographical reflections" (James Atlas)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Doing without

So the new year has arrived and Mother Nature once again reminds us who's boss. I feel helpless in the face of so much misery created by the floods in Queensland. I don't know which is worse, floods or fire; lives are lost in both cases, and not only human lives, but animal lives as well. At least humans can understand what is happening, and hopefully get themselves to safety, whereas animals just panic and look for their owners to rescue them. So sad.
Seeing scenes on TV, people 'rescuing' fridges, carpets etc., the current events again reminded me how much luggage we carry around throughout our lives, and I wonder how much we really need compared to what we want or have. I confess to being somewhat of a 'material girl', I like my 'stuff'. At the same time, it ties me down. I began to think what I would really need in an emergency situation, but then it occurred to me to consider what I really can't do without. So, what would I place in the car, boat or helicopter that would take me to safety?
Given that DH would look after his own emergency kit, and we would both look after the pets, we'd need some sturdy clothes/shoes to see us through the immediate emergency. Our passports, birth certificates, insurance policies. A couple of USB sticks with photos and PhD files. Medications, mobile phone & charger, wallet. What else does one really need, when all one can take needs to fit into a rucksack?
If I could take more, perhaps some food (incl. pet food), a pillow, a quilt, a book. Which book?
Hmm, something escapist, a Sheri Tepper novel perhaps. Or poetry, Walt Whitman maybe. My iPod, my fabric stash, quilts, photo albums.
Almost everything is replaceable. So, although disaster might befall me, could I do without? Of course, one must, in such circumstances. I hope my family, friends, and I are never tested in such a way, and that Mother Nature calms down again soon, so people in Queensland can start to rebuild their lives.
In the meantime, my new year's resolution is to reduce the amount of 'stuff' in my life, and recycle more. What would you put into your backpack?


  1. I like how you jumped from pet food to pillow. A pillow!!!...?....LOL

    I've been looking at some of the pictures. Have to say, it's the animals that jerk my heart so badly and for the reasons that you say.

    Pet food would definately be on my list. I would rather go hungry..like you say, i understand what is happening.

    Hubby's cousin and husband just had their trailer burned to the ground and they barely escaped with their lives (couldn't get the door open because in their terror they forgot that they had it dead-bolted). She said that the only thing that would have bothered her to loose was her pressure cooker...lol...and she had that lent out, so it was preserved.

  2. Other than family and pets I would grab my photos and family videos. As you say, everything else can be replaced. I think clean undies would go in there too.

  3. We have an evacuation every few years. I always take photos and family artwork and handmade items. Other things get moved to higher places. When my treadmill was new, I managed to tilt it onto the sofa. I know people who lost everything in Katrina. One of my best friends left with only her purse and a change of clothes and her home flooded to about 3 inches from the ceiling. As bad as flooding is, I'd prefer it to a fire. Many things can be saved or restored if the flooding is not too deep and the water doesn't remain too long. One time when our house flooded, I kicked holes in all the walls except one to let the water drain out. Only the pictures hanging on the wall I missed got mold in them.

  4. Seems we all have similar priorities.
    Fay, a pillow is a very comforting thing and can be shared with my cat! What an ordeal for your relatives, fire would totally freak me out!
    Chris, clean undies are a good idea, lol!
    Lisa, you've been through this exercise with your hurricanes; I don't know if I could remain in such a hurricane-prone area.

  5. I totally understand taking a pillow--we have travel sized ones for the truck--and undies are a must but up north, I would also suggest clean socks!
    We are at risk of fire rather than flooding and in theory our home is meant to be most likely type to survive a fire and even protect the contents. I would hate to test the theory that logs would smoulder rather than burn. Also, there is no fire protection here at all. We are our own fire department. We are in a constant state of emergency preparedness year round and have taken every measure to prevent fire damage. We have taken in evacuees several times.
    I have been in purge-material-goods mode (relatively speaking) and hope that I would have the time to collect material goods as our seven dogs and nine cats would be the priority. Wrangling them would take some time!