Black Forest is just what it says it is. It’s “black”, meaning it has a high density of ponderosa pine trees so thick that when you walk into the grove of trees, it is black as night. Right in the middle of this acreage of trees is a small community called Black Forest with a community center, grocery store, post office and several other establishments all set in a small frontier-like setting.
I rent a beautiful small home on a 430 acre ranch at the north edge of the forest. Next to my home is a dairy barn, chicken coop, larger barn, shed, ice house, all surrounded with deer, fox, hawk, elk, wild turkeys, quiet nights, gorgeous days and solitude like nowhere else on earth.
When the fire started right near the town of Black Forest, which is 9 miles from my home, I started packing and actually left two days before even the voluntary evacuation was announced. Because I am organized, I was able to make many trips and actually remove from my home more than normal as I had several days to do so. At the last, still even before they asked us to evacuate, I rented a truck and loaded up my most prized 4 pieces of furniture, my two antique beds and my two antique chest of drawers, pieces that my Mom or I had refinished 50 years ago and were priceless to me.
Even with being advanced in the move, I still was not able to retrieve my living room, dining room, kitchen table, den furniture or my two bedrooms downstairs, but I got the best out in time.
I then was able to help my landlords by driving out their third vehicle as they evacuated their home. Comically in all of this, as we were loading up and ready to drive out of their garage, their truck battery had to be charged. I should have known by that experience that I was in for a surprise. Sure enough, here I was in bumper to bumper traffic and the truck died! Some men helped me to push the truck to the side road and an hour later, my landlord showed up, cleaned the battery and off we went!
Having time to go through your house and leisurely pick out what you want to take with you gives you a new sense of what matters and what doesn’t. As I was choosing this item and not that item, what criteria did I use to choose what would be taken and what I would leave? For me it stemmed around relationships-past and present. I took what reminded me of my parents, my friends and of course I took my files and important papers and clothes.
Even having several days to pick and choose, you get a sense of what matters and what doesn’t and you begin to see life from a whole different perspective.
Since I am a professional organizer and have taught about eliminating unnecessary “stuff” from your life, I got to experience first-hand the elimination process. It was painful, as I left some things behind that meant a lot to me but I kept asking the question, “Can you live without this Sue?” “What happens if your house is burned, will you regret having not taken this?” Again, I had three full days to pick and choose, which is not usual, as most people wait until the last minute before they pack and leave.
As I have viewed other people after a fire has burned their homes, they don’t seem to care much about their furniture, but in my case, almost every piece of furniture I own has either been refinished by my Mom or me or passed on to me from her as this was an important legacy that she wanted to leave me when she died. Every piece of furniture has a memory, so it is not just furniture that I bought at American Furniture Warehouse but memories of Mom and me refinishing this or that piece for the 4-H fair when I was growing up.
I was able to retrieve every hand-made quilt, her hand-hooked rugs that she created and also all of her hand-painted artwork plus all of my people pictures and slides of my life. So the memories are intact even though most of the furniture has remained.
I don’t know the condition of my home. I am praying for a miracle and for the Lord to rain down on the fire and reign down on this monster that is destroying lives and livings of so many people. Whatever happens, I am alive, well and learning to be content in whatever circumstance that I find I am in.
I am presently living with a friend and her husband in their home in the heart of Colorado Springs which is where my furniture and stuff is stored-in their garage. What good friends-letting me mess up their garage and putting up with me in their home. People helping people-that is what life is all about.
I sense a new chapter coming into my life, whether I have a home to return to or not. I am excited about living for the Lord, making every moment count for advancing His Kingdom and learning to live with less.
May his mercies prevail!