I wrote the below a week ago. The next day, we drove to Sydney enroute to a delicious Tasmanian retreat (unexpected and all the more treasured for that). As we drove the smoke was thick as ever and a dead kangaroo on the side of the road (not an uncommon sight in Australia) had me crying for what is happening to this country. The shame felt immeasurable.
Thankfully, a week in glorious blue skies and mild weather has done wonders for my mood. But I think the below is worth posting. I had many other thoughts I meant to put down but I focused on my reprieve instead and now I can’t remember what they were.
Tonight we had dinner with my parents-in-law. I looked around the table. All of us are safe. And yet we all looked tired and shell-shocked. We all looked droopy – like the poor dry plants in the garden. Even those of us who are safe don’t feel very safe. We are either worrying about others or we are dreading the next hot day because it might mean we’re not safe anymore.
When we left, I opened the Tesla’s window to wave goodbye. A tiny flurry of ash swirled in.
Today we saw a man driving his lovely old (1960s?) pale-blue MG – roof off, gas mask on. Today the sky was high but colourless and the sun was a red disk. Today, in Canberra, the view from Old Parliament House to the War Memorial was obscured by smoke. In November, none of these sights were familiar or normal. Now, none of them are surprising. Now, we expect to discover that a hardware store is sold out of gas masks. Now we are pleasantly surprised when we step outside and it doesn’t reek of smoke and our eyes don’t water. Now a day when the sky is pale grey (instead of brown) is a good day.
On the ABC website, you can view tens of articles about the fires, about our PM’s statements, about the rallies in our big cities to “sack ScoMo” (which were accused of taking resources away from the fire front), about politicians blaming arson when arson accounts for less than 1% of the blazes, about what will happen to Sydney’s water supply if there is a storm and Warragamba Dam gets filled with ash, about the hundreds of people who are homeless and/or jobless. P suggested we set up a refugee camp on the lawns of Parliament house. Not a bad idea.
I feel like, in a room full of world leaders, that our PM is like a drunk uncle at a wedding, stuck on some false notion about the bride’s first boyfriend and refusing to let it go, bawling it at the top of his lungs to whoever doesn’t actually walk away. He is cringe-worthy. Deeply embarrassing.