Monotype Print by Elizabeth Stokkebye

I live in a fire prone area of California. Seems like everyone in California does… We had the Kincade Fire five miles from our small Napa Valley town. We chose to evacuate when we were advised to do so. Fortunately, we have family in the Monterey Bay area, where the ocean breeze keeps the air fresh.

We packed our best belongings, our small cat, Selma, and headed south. Leaving meant leaving the stress of being close to a fire. Leaving meant choosing the things that have meaning to you. Leaving meant being okay with leaving everything else behind. Leaving meant knowing that life is important.

This process of choosing and knowing the importance of life is a process I wish for everyone to go through. This process of ignoring our attachment to things, to dead things, that may burn, is vital to life. This process of being able to move on, to leave things behind, is a process of learning to let go. This process of understanding our place in Nature, which is much bigger and stronger than us, is urgent if we are to balance our lives with Nature.

Forty-eight hours later we return home. The smoke is gone and the fire danger as well. The trees and the vineyards seem even more fiery in color and the crisp leaves disintegrate easily by footsteps. We breathe air deprived of humidity, and our skin cracks by the touch. When we rake the leaves, the dust settles in our eyes and nose.

We have decided to leave California. After thirty five years in the Golden State with its warm sunshine, blue ocean and friendly smiles, we want to leave what it has become. It is not only about the fire. It is about the majorly congested freeways and roads, the unaffordable housing, the rising cost of everyday living, and the huge inequality between rich and poor.

What happened to living sustainably?

Here is a great article on the problems we face in the Golden State:


  1. Hope your Napa Valley home survives the Kincade fire, and as a lifelong Californian I can relate to your plans to leave the Golden State. The wealth disparity gap is reason enough to leave, along with the increasing fires and population that does nothing but grow. But I do love my native state and would find it hard to leave. All the best for your future plans.

  2. Elizabeth,

    Come to North Carolina. Heavenly weather, Southern hospitality, and soul-soothing landscapes from the Appalachians to the Atlantic. We’d love to have you.

    • Mike,

      Yes, that’s an option and thank you for the invite 😄
      We’re thinking to spend more time in Denmark and with the kids, where they are. Our plan is to live without one home but move about through airb&b. Being nomads for a while.
      That could bring us through NC, too!

  3. Dear Elizabeth,

    This makes me so very sad. I have thought of you and Ken as we watch the news. Everyday there are new fires. For two summers we lived with some residual smoke from fires from the east, from the north, from the south. It was nothing compared to what you have dealt with but it was annoying and unhealthy. This summer we did not have that and it was a relief.

    I don’t know how I would choose things if I had to leave suddenly. I am overwhelmed with stuff right now, especially since my mom passed and I have acquired a lot from her. I have the desire to sort through and get rid of stuff but not the energy to match. But I will plug away at it now that my responsibilities of looking after my mom no longer consume me. Maybe that’s not the right word. It sounds negative and it was out of love. Well, you know.

    Where will you go? Washington? Ohio? North Carolina? Denmark? I am so sorry you have to deal with this. Keep us posted. Did you post this on FB or Instagram? I think people who don’t get what you are dealing with should read your words. Please be safe.

    Very much love to you both,
    Chris (and Dan)❤️

    Sent from myMail for iOS

    Wednesday, October 30, 2019, 11:14 PM -0700 from :
    elizabeth stokkebye posted: ” Monotype Print by Elizabeth Stokkebye I live in a fire prone area of California. Seems like everyone in California does… We had the Kincade Fire five miles from our small Napa Valley town. We chose to evacuate when we were advised to do so. Fortuna”

    • Dear Chris,

      Thank you for your thoughts and words.
      How did you get this? I posted on Twitter but not Facebook or Instagram. I’m no longer on FB but still on Instagram.
      Yes, Kenn and I have been talking about leaving, even before the fires…
      We’re both danish citizens and would like to be in Denmark half of the year. The other half we’re thinking to be where the kids are and in Mexico. Our idea is to live airb&b for a while. In a way, like Jim and Bea, who lived in an RV. It is easy for us to get up and go, as we don’t own a home.
      We wanted to start in the spring of 2021, but now, it may be 2020. We can’t deal with another fire season!
      Yes, it is hard to manage a lot of stuff! And it’s a relief to get rid of it, for sure. How about putting it on Craigs List? Or having stuff in consignment stores? It takes work to manage this instead of just dumping it, which is mentally difficult.
      We have downsized our mom’s things over the years, and that has made it easier!
      The most important thing is to NOT feel guilty about it. After all, it is only stuff that doesn’t have as much value as real relationships, including the one you had with your mother.
      All the best to you ❤️

Leave a Reply to elizabeth stokkebye Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s