Yesterday I spent almost $100 at the drug store. This was after going through several old first aid kits, throwing away half a big trash can of crusty supplies: bandages that had lost their stickiness, saline eye wash and triple antibiotic wound cream that had expired years ago, and bottles with labels too faded to discern what their contents were, or when they had been created.


I replaced tweezers and scissors no longer present, bought rolls of bandages that had never been present in the first place. I sorted and emptied three large bins of supplies, plus some random pre-made zip pouches we either purchased along the way or were given in promotions.


From these ashes, I assembled three kits: car, home, boat. Into a small red pouch for my car, I put supplies I thought appropriate to an emergency that might happen in it (silver “space blanket,” bandages large and small, wound cream, “presto” ice packs and tweezers to extract a tick or splinter). In a larger home kit, I put more comprehensive supplies to take care of someone in case of such household emergencies as burns, wounds, stings and poisoning until (or in place of) the arrival of a professional emergency crew. And then the big daddy – a red tackle box repurposed to hold supplies I thought might be needed on my husband’s boat if someone got injured far from shore. That box is now bulging with supplies for all three stages of wound care (stop the bleeding, clean the wound, then secure it): roll, adhesive and fingertip bandages; instant cold and heat packs; antiseptic wash and ointment; burn treatments; eye irrigation supplies; an arm sling and a neck brace.


It took me a couple of Saturday hours, that trash can, and the aforementioned money. It also filled me with gratitude. Or as they say on social media, #gratitude.


Why gratitude? Why did throwing away so much defunct stuff and then rebuying it make me thankful?


Because it went bad from lack of use. How fortunate are we that some of those items had expired unopened, decades after we purchased them. Here we are having made many life and recreational choices that put us in harm’s way, yet we had never needed more than a few of these supplies to fix something gone wrong. Things happened, yes, but not much, really. During his many decades of fun on the water, my husband has remained safe doing all the things he loves to do: freediving, fishing, spearfishing, traveling into Mexican waters and Baja territory off-road. Others he knew of were not so lucky. His boat and his truck(s) suffered the worst injuries, but as someone once said, “If money can fix it, it isn’t that bad of a problem.”


We raised our girls hiking, camping, and playing in the water without significant injury. I’m so glad we were able to share the wild with them while they were young, instilling a love for the natural world without anyone getting really hurt. We saw so much together. They are adults now and moved away, and it fills both of us up with joy to see our girls enjoying the woods, the ocean and the desert, sharing it with friends and our grandchildren.


Sorting, tossing, purchasing and assembling these new kits delighted me! It tells me that there is still adventure ahead, that this chapter of our story remains unwritten. As we prepare for a special week away in a rented mountain house on Donner Lake that we will fill with the miracle of the 10 of us all there together, my prayer is that we return with unopened emergency supplies. Lord, keep us safe once more. If I find myself filling up another trash can 10 years from now? I will be filled again with #gratitude and can only hope that I will restock those kits to head back out into this wild wonderful world with someone I love.

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