After three years of temperate summers, the summer heat of my youth returned with a vengeance. Over the past fortnight, not only did temperatures in my part of the world soar to thirty nine degrees Celsius and more, but the radiant heat also reached record breaking highs.
For over a week, the fire rating in my immediate region reached catastrophic levels. The national warning system - phone alerts, Internet updates with maps, fifteen minutely news broadcasts - swung into full operation. Being informed not only ensured safety but it also created increased levels of anxiety. We cancelled our January holiday plans.
Thick smoke palls shrouded my local area. Low humidity added to the risk of fire as it caused the landscape to dry out in record time. My winter-green lawn around the house disappeared at the rate ground moisture evaporated.
Fire burned out-of-control twenty-three kilometres away. We activated our evacuation plan, packed irreplaceable belongings, and debated whether or not we should stay and defend the property if fire threatened it. The local rural fire brigade captain ended that debate with the advice that defence of property was advisable only when fire ratings were at the severe level. With it at catastrophic levels, there was only one recourse, escape.
In the very early hours of the each morning, my husband rose before first light and methodically cleared away potential fuel on our property. This has previously been a normal part of our Spring and Autumn work around the property, but this time, we examined our 7.5 acres critically. It was gruelling work.
That assessment through a new lens also resulted in our review of what is important in life. Life, security, and happiness are fragile states that need to be valued and protected. The dry wood that accumulates with everyday existence easily clutters our worlds, putting at risk what is valuable. In 2013, my husband and I have resolved to prune away the dead wood so that we stay focused on what matters.
A huge thanks is extended to all fire-fighters in Australia. Your are unsung heroes who deserve the accolades and rewards that Olympians and the entertainment industry claim.
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