Sunday, August 23, 2009

Burning Off

Lately we've had a bit of a warm patch with the weather. Which, because its August, means burning off.
In Sydney the pristine early spring days are invariably marred by huge plumes of smoke and the smell of burning eucalyptus. Today was no exception.

At one point the smoke became thick and the the sound of helicopters had me starting up my usual bushfire pastime of staring obsessively at the smoke, pacing around the garden and checking the internet to see that all is well. Of course all was well, and within twenty minutes the smoke had died down and the choppers were gone.

As the weather has got warmer, the significance of the forthcoming bushfire season has become more real. When Black Saturday happened down in Victoria, it was the end of the bushfire season around here. We knew that for the next few months the risk of fires was going to be very low.

That, however, was six months ago.

Lately reports have been circulating of the recovery of the bushfire victims and the effected habitat. Many people still have not lost that air of shell-shock as they relate once more how they lost their entire family. I still cry to read stories of bravery, unimaginable loss and breathtaking miracles. The shattering effect that Black Saturday had has not faded for all that its been pushed to the background by cool weather and good rain.

Its got me thinking about what's to come. Last year we had two smallish fires nearby, both started by lightening strikes. Every year we get at least one. There are dire reports of this being 'the worst fire season ever' - but we get that every year around now. I think this bushfire season will be no different to the last in terms of severity. But what will be different is the knowledge that my family is as vulnerable as those people who lost everything in Black Saturday.

So I suppose the question is how is that going to change my attitude. What am I going to do differently. Will I sit here, hanging on the internet and the radio, following the updates and swap phone calls with friends and family. Well that's what I usually do. Take a few photos? Blog about it? Or will I have a plan of action, know what to do, when to leave, whether to stay? At what point to call hubby home from work. At what point to pack the car?

We have a fire plan. I've downloaded the bits from the Rural Fire Services website, discussed it with hubby. But its a daunting thought - the whole bushfire thing. A very daunting thought.

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