From a burning country

It’s been quite eerie since I got back from India two weeks ago. Australia is burning like never before. In a chat with my kids today we realized that either this was going to go down as an unprecedented disaster in history, or, alas more likely, as the new norm for decades to come. Over 700 homes and 2,000 buildings have been burnt down. There have been 7 fatalities in NSW alone. 10 percent of our national parks have burnt down and fires are still raging. Fire fighters are getting support from all other states as well as the defense force.

The closest fires to the Central Coast have just joined into one massive one forcing many friends and acquaintances of ours in the hinterland to evacuate their homes. A friend who lives less then 20 minutes down the road is on high alert. The air quality has been appalling, some days worse than in New Delhi. My throat is sore, yet this is nothing compared to what Asthma sufferers are going through. This week’s local farmers’ organic produce delivery was cancelled  as they are busy fighting the fires.

If one can see the sun, it’s behind a massive layer of smoke and you can stare in amazement into that orange-red ball ALL DAY LONG. It’s got a dooms day feel to it and emergency shelters for evacuated farmers and other folks are popping up left right and centre. Each day the smog gets thicker, both in Sydney and up here, in a semi-rural area an hour north of the big city. Yesterday, I started to pack an emergency bag just in case. This is closer to home than ever before. The scope of it all is beyond anything that’s ever happened. I have yet to talk to my Aboriginal Elder, teacher and medicine woman – I am sure she’s got some story to explain all this.

Somehow everyone who can, tries to continue their life as normal, despite nothing feeling normal at all. What is there to do? You help the ones you can. Spare rooms are made available. You pray. You stare in disbelief and helplessness. Also, in awe of Mother Nature. It is obvious that this is just a sense of a new reality. How glad we are that we have just sold our lot here in the bush. Will Australia become unlivable in my children’s life? Maybe this is exaggerating, but this time round, the media doesn’t seem to dramatize things as it’s bad enough as is.

Our emergency plan is the boat – we’ll sail of, if need be towards the horizon. Hopefully it won’t get to that. I’ll keep reflecting on what’s really happening here – a semi-rural area just an hour north of Sydney where all weekend sports have been suspended cause of the horrid air quality. This is huge in Australia, a nation so passionate about outdoors and sports. Right now, it’s about staying cool and safe and getting some clean air into one’s lungs. Then about protecting ones homes and belongings. Back to basics.

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