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Photos by T Winter  (Please click on the link to see additional images)



The California fires are by no means at my doorstep, but their effects surround us. Smoke is still present, but with a change in the wind direction, it is less evident other than our magnificent orange and pink sunsets which, sadly, are created by the smoke. The evidence of this ongoing tragedy can be seen in the faces of our community. The desire to help. The feeling of helplessness to comfort friends who have lost everything. The tragedy of the shooting at the Borderline Bar just a day prior. And then there is the message tweeted from our President who decided to condemn rather than offer guidance and condolences. 

However, as Californians, we have not lost the spirit to rise up... overcome and find peace. 

Sadly, we have friends who have lost their homes, and in some cases, have risked their lives to save them. Their stories are tragic and scary. Finding the right words to say is impossible - so you listen. In these times, I am not the only person who has taken a moment to ask herself what HOME really means, and of course ponder the question, if I had a little advanced notice, what would I take? So many people were not given time prior to their evacuation. 

What is a HOME? 

According to Yahoo definitions (who is Webster again?), a HOME is the place where one lives permanently, especially as a member of a family or household. 

 Live permanently... I have lived in fourteen different HOMES over the course of my 53 years. This includes college and boarding school - as they were both my homes for a time. I used to consider both Hawaii and Maryland to be my HOME.  I moved back and forth between the two growing up. In truth, I have lived in California longer than I have lived anywhere else. I have lived in my current HOME longer than I had lived in any one HOME growing up. I have to believe that the blue cottage I live in is my HOME, not because of its four walls or that I live here as a “permanent” resident, but because of the love and life that has been lived within these four walls. 

The next question is to ask myself is, if these walls disappeared and all the material items within disappeared as well, would I be HOMEless? Or could I rise up and remind myself that I have my family, my animals, and hopefully my photo albums and computer (which is what I decided would be my “must takes”).  Are they what makes up my HOME?  Truthfully, I have no idea. It would certainly take time to digest. 

In speaking with friends, I get the sense that the physical disaster of losing their HOME is not what is truly scary - it is not knowing what tomorrow will bring.  Where do we live now?  How do we afford to start over?  Or to think about that trinket that has no real monetary value, but so much sentimental value - gone forever. 

So, in the end, I offer no guidance only the words of others who have pondered their own contemplation of HOME. 

HOME is where the heart is. (Gaius Plinius Secundus, a Roman philosopher better known as Pliny the Elder)

In the "Wizard of Oz," Dorothy doesn't achieve closure until she recognizes that "There is no place like home."

In the words of poet Robert Frost, "Home is the place that, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." 

So, in this season of going HOME for the holidays - really take a moment to remind yourself and your family WHAT, or more so WHO really makes up your HOME.

Photos by T Winter  

 (Please click on the link to see additional images)


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