We had word last night that the wildfire in California had swept through my eldest brother’s place in the Sierras. The extent of the damage isn’t known right now because the battle against the fire goes on. What I can tell you is the land there is some of the most beautiful in the world; rolling hills covered in spreading oak trees, sparkling streams, bright blue above by day — and at night the stars in the midnight sky glimmering so close you reach your hands up to feel the universe streaming above you.
The practical aspect of the property is that, beside the house, my brother and sister-in-law have built a business there, so there is the residence in jeopardy and also two buildings where they do precision technical sewing (within specifications of a thousandth of an inch) to make arms for robots, pieces of rocket ships, cooling-suits for people with medical conditions, and probes that explore the bottom of the ocean.
Beyond that, in the residence you will find the books that contain the copper-plate inscriptions of my grand-parents and two life-times later the five year-old scrawl of yours truly. There’s a pile of postcards my attorney grandfather wrote to my grandmother everyday from downtown Chicago, a camera of my father’s, paintings by my mother. There’s the table and chairs where the family gathers for every meal, and have done for many generations. Or there might be, I don’t know at this point…
What I do know is most important; that the legacy of the past goes on in the lives of those who escaped the fire, and right now that appears to be everybody. Godspeed to the firefighters, and to all in the fire’s path.