Today started out nice and quickly turned into a nightmare. We were having a leisurely morning (I reading a novel: The Fountain Head – which is excellent by the way) and Mike was bringing a heifer in with the four wheeler before it became even hotter and a vehicle ban was imposed. Because we are in a very dry and fire prone area, we have to be careful with all vehicles. The exhaust coming out of the car onto hay can ignite and cause serious consequences.
Mike came into the house, and the power went out. We were chatting for a bit when he went back out and asked me to take a look and see if I saw the fire too? YES. HOLY %&*^%!! We could see this small stream of smoke about 20kms away. He called the shire straight away (yes they call them shires here! ahah I am reminded of the hobbit). Anyway, back to the crisis.
The man from the shire said this was a fire about 100kms away, and we were to not worry. We went onto the porch again and stared at it. We figured he might be right and yet still had our doubts about it being that far off. We were relaxing for about 10 mins when we both looked again. This time there was large black plumes coming from the same direction. The fire was already 2x larger.
I started to get nervous, and asked about our exit strategy. If it came near the farm, we would collect our little ones and have to leave everything to chance. We are only equipped to fight small fires here. We have been told the first thing to consider is your life. Everything else comes second.
We started to get calls from the neighbour, she thought it was very close as well. The power was out and there was no cell phone reception (the power is still out as I am writing this).
I then get a call from our neighbour Brian. He wants me to drive Mike out to the site (20kms) out from the property. We were right to be concerned. Mike puts on long sleeves, jeans and boots and packs some frozen water. I won’t stay but will drop Mike off as you can’t leave any vehicles on site. I start the truck and we head out to the origin of the fire.
The cloud is massive by this point, and I can sense Mike is a bit nervous. He hasn’t been to a fire before, and hell I am freaking out sending him off, but he is in safe hands with Brian. Brian has lived here 50 years and spent 50 of those years with the fire brigade. He is very much a father figure (or rather grandfather figure) to both of us.
We get close to the site, and my stomach is flipping over itself. We can see kilometers of fire. I keep having flashbacks as I see the flames and smoke. An enitre power pole has had its electrical box explode and is the initial cause of the blaze. I grimace and drive forward. We see the crew waiting and watching the progression of destruction. I hop out and am greeted by Brian. Mike and Brian chat for a few minutes. Before I go, I give Mike a quick kiss, and we say our “I love you’s”.
I take a few snaps and then head home solo. I know the winds are in my favour but still, I am a nervous mess.
When I am a safe distance, I stop for a moment and watch full trees burn. It is an unnerving sight. I can only imagine what Mike is seeing.
I keep praying that Mike and the rest of the team stay safe and no one gets injured. The fire as I drive past has extended across 3kms of land. The black smoke is covering 1/8th of the skyline. Brian’s son and I cross paths and he tells me Tessa (Brians Wife) is home and she’s waiting for me.
She took me in and we chatted about birds (and their ity bity nest in her front entrance), flowers (she has some gorgeous lilies), kangaroos, memories for almost 4 hours. She and Brian are amazing people. It was really nice to have someone to keep me distracted for the afternoon. I’d probably be on the phone bugging someone in Canada at an unbecoming time if I wasn’t with her.
So now I am home, waiting for Mike, and I can see that the smoke has cleared. I wonder what he learned today, I am sure it was really exciting. I miss him.
Ok, so the power is back on. Mike is home safe and sound, and said he didn’t do too much, he observed and did some back burning (setting sections on fire to remove fuel). It was quite dull apparently. I imagined a more stressful experience, so it’s nice to know he was safe.
Ha! A few hours of hanging out alone, in the dark, I called my dad. He didn’t mind being woken up at 6am.
Oh yeah, those 2 bananas, are the first bananas we have had in over a year. Since the floods last summer the price of bananas has been $17.00 a kilo (that translates to: 2 pounds for $17.00) I didn’t look at the receipt for the official price but I think they were $9.00. Rediculous right? It is great that Australia grows seasonally and prices (not outsources) according to their ACTUAL market value. You don’t take bananas for granted here. I mean in Canada I could buy 2 pounds for $1.60 – though they weren’t produced locally (probably came from Mexico), and the amount of pollution we created shipping them also hasn’t been factored in. Value for dollar is the only consideration.
On that note, I’ll leave you with this track (which has nothing to do with fires or bananas…)