As I type this, one of my ears is listening out for the emergency warnings on the radio, and the CFA website is up. A fast-moving grass fire is burning its way through the very dry grasslands out west, and there is the pall of smoke from the Creswick fires hanging around my area too.
It appears the February Dragon (Colin Thiele anyone?) has arrived early here. The dry nature of the wide brown land has resurfaced itself, and with it the outbreak of fires across Australia. Though in truth some of the fires have been burning for a while, it’s only the fires that endanger humanity which seem to be reported.
I watch the reporting of the fires in Tasmania, Victoria, and New South Wales, and my heart goes out to everyone, from those who have lost everything, to the folks fighting the fires, to those who are supporting the fire fighters, the police officers and volunteers who are helping out by bringing in supplies to folks cut off.
And I reflect on my own experiences of the fires that swept through on Ash Wednesday in 1983. My high school was evacuated, and I remember the heavy smoke the school buses had to trundle through to carry us home. My brother was out fighting those fires, and the tales he brought home of the heat, the smoke and the fierce fire are still vivid for me.
My husband rolls his eyes, as each summer I collect together the important stuff, family photos, certificates, the portable hard drive, and have them ready to be grabbed if we need to evacuate. I also ensure he knows where we can meet should we become separated, and the methods we will use to evacuate the cat and dog too. (Our son is first and foremost of the precious items to be grabbed and carried to safety). I can’t help myself, the need to be prepared has always been part of who I am, and I will continue to nurture this part of me.
It’s part of life, living in regional Victoria, away from the conveniences and emergency responder times of the city.