On the Fleurieu And Worse Beyond
[Christmas holidays in Australia and the K-Team prove they don’t have to travel far to experience mayhem and adventure.]
Deep in sleep. Relishing the cool southerly breeze through our window after another stinker of a day. I dreamed of camping out and wood fires.
Light assaulted my eyes.
I blinked and rubbed what seemed to be sawdust from my dry eyes and stared at my son.
‘The air smells like smoke.’
A brief excursion into the backyard confirmed smoke-filled air. Again!
‘Must be the smoke from Kangaroo Island,’ I mumbled to my son. Could be smoke from a fire at Strathalbyn, I thought after looking up the CFS (Country Fire Service) site.
We shut and locked all the windows. Then, Son and I prayed that the fire would be quenched and that the smoke haze would dissipate. I crawled back into bed with Mr. K snoring through the whole ordeal.
Sleep, I could not. A consequence of being woken by said son at 2.30am and defending against the smoke haze of Australia on fire.
Mr. K had shown us a map that an influential overseas country had of Australian bushfires. The whole country was aflame, apparently. Not so much South Australia, though.
I can tell you that we live in a high-risk fire danger area. However, if you happened to step out onto our street and look around, you’d think you were in sleepy suburbia.
I don’t know if it’s just my imagination, but no one in our street appears worried about the fires or smoke. Last night one of the neighbours had Christmas lights flashing merrily away at 3am.
A news article reported the bushfires have killed thousands of native animals; burnt into extinction. My son, on the other hand, believes the koalas in our local area are multiplying. Or is it that our suburb on the Adelaide foothills is becoming koala-central as koalas activate their own safety escape plan and flee to Sturt Gorge? They haven’t read the warnings set out by the CFS that we are in a “Bushfire Risk Area”.
Discussed with an auntie about our “Bushfire Escape Plan”. What would we take? Laptop? Hard drive? Photos? Son would want to take his guitar that he made. What about my paintings? Where does one draw the line? Stuff is just stuff; it’s replaceable. And, after the initial enthusiasm from mum to store our treasured possessions, the novelty has worn off as the list of items grew. So, in the end, I realised I need to put my trust in God. He will protect and provide.
New Year’s Eve and an ominous warning of the Apocalypse. The sun filtered thorough a veil of smoke haze, red and menacing. The land so parched, that local magpies bathed under our sprinkler.
The sign of foreboding glowed an angry orange on mum’s fence and back patio, but she forgot to take a photo. At our place, I tried but, took the magpie instead.
Morning, and the scent of the promise of rain has replaced the smoke haze. The fire on the Fleurieu at Strathalbyn has been doused, while the Kangaroo Island fire still rages. Under it’s own fire-created weather system, apparently. Our worries seem insignificant to those on the East coast where the headlines proclaim, “Climate Change Refugees”, “Fire Could Be Unstoppable”, “Worse than Amazon Fires” and “Aus Committing Climate Suicide”.
Hey, but before we all get caught up in the heat of a media frenzy that claims the end of the world is nigh, let’s take a step back in history for some perspective. The media would have you believe that these are the worst fires ever to engulf the face of the earth. But I remember in 1983, the Ash Wednesday bushfires where 47 people died in Victoria and 27 in South Australia. I remember watching the Adelaide Hill face turn crimson, glowing hot with flames and a pall of black smoke covering the Adelaide plains.
Mr. K did his own Google research and announced that the Black Thursday Bushfires of 1851 devastated one quarter of Victoria.
So, just putting it out there, bushfires in Australia are nothing new.
Anyway, back to the morning. A cool change has given our state a reprieve and the brave firefighters a chance to conquer the flames on Kangaroo Island and Cuddlee Creek. In 1983, soon after the fires, I toured the hills and recorded the scorched landscape. New growth had sprouted from blackened stumps. Seeds had germinated generating new life as a result of the intense heat from the fires. And we even found a pigmy possum that had somehow survived the blaze.
And so, rising from the ashes, hope.
Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?”
© Lee-Anne Marie Kling 2020