With the Okanagan fires this July and a friend’s house recently burning to the ground, I’ve began compiling a digital photographic listing of the valuables in my house. I’ve discovered that most of my replaceable valuables are books. I have no expensive jewellery, the only electronic device I own of value is my laptop and that is almost always with me. Plus the only reason it is of value is because of what is on it and I’ve taken to backing up my stuff to the servers (x2) after losing 80% of my writing when my hard-drive crashed last month (the dissertation had already been backed up multiple times, everything else … likely gone).
Oh, there’s the Xboxes (old and newish), the ancient television, and, of course, Bobby’s instruments. But those comprise six photographs only. My books take up 44 pictures and that’s only the upstairs bookshelves in my room and livingroom. There are two more bookshelves in upstairs bedrooms, my cookbook library and then the downstairs shelves.
I keep almost every book (excluding library ones) that lands on my many bookshelves. When we relocated to the Okanagan the man who came to give an estimate on moving costs suggested I get rid of some of the books as they cost the most to move. I was horrified. He shrugged and said “You can always buy new ones.”
But really he’s right. I can buy new books. I can’t replace the pictures of my dad, the letters Cait wrote to Nancy after she died and keeps in a special box in her closet, the baptism gown my mom crocheted or the wedding veil that both my cousin and I wore at our weddings. Funny all those little things, I don’t even know where half of them are in this big house.
But the most important things aren’t THINGS at all. They are the people and animals I love. After the tragedy this weekend in the Shuswap, I think I’d count myself lucky if I could just hold them safe. At times like this we should take a moment to reflect on what is truly irreplacable.