Here at Poddler’s Creek, Autumn has most definitely arrived. The glow of the late afternoon sun is so bright I’ve had to move from the window or be dazzled. The vines are changing colour, as are the London Plane trees which edge many of the vineyards. Our market gardener neighbours have spectacular trees – pistachio and other nuts which have a depth of colour this year that we haven’t seen in quite a few years. In a week or less now, the brown land will turn green for another six months or more and we can breathe a sigh of relief as the bush-fire season is over and we can relax our vigilance and take our eye off the ball.
This year one fire came close, the closest we’ve had in five or six years and we were packed ready to leave. We sat out an afternoon, bags at the ready and set to go as soon as we deemed it necessary or those who so ably and capably look after us with such dedication were ready for us to leave and get out of the way. Our volunteer Country Fire Service train all year round and each unit has special skills to complement those of the ‘next door’ units. Our unit specialises in the use of ‘the jaws of death’ and can rapidly cut passengers from crashed vehicles. Each fire truck is equipped with everything needed to fight fire and to take care of the needs of the crew on hoard and that includes dozens of bottles of water. It gets hot out there in Summer in a fire zone! Each year the technology improves, the response time quickens and the fire fighting techniques are aided by better and better machines and communications.
Many decades ago my afather and a friend who was in charge of the local police force where responsible for setting up the first fire unit. How amazed and proud they would be to see how the service has grown, developed and taken advantage of what has been on offer to improve the service. Each year we feel better protected by the skilled volunteers to give up their time for this community service. Each unit is well supported not just by volunteers but by fund-raisers, tea-makers, cake-bakers, sandwich crafters and those who work outside the fire zones to keep things running smoothly and efficiently. It is perhaps one of the most successful voluntary exercises involving the most people in the most efficient enterprise in our country. Thank goodness something is working well still! Our Government has managed to alienate, upset, worry, anger, incense, amuse, annoy, astonish, amaze and deeply antagonise every group our society is made up of. We have been scorned by other countries, criticised and made fun of and our relationships damaged beyond easy repair. We are the laughing-stock of the world as our Prime Minister sails blithely on like Mr Magoo, leaving disaster after disaster I his wake! Where will it all end? Day by day the next election comes closer, but so far there is no effective opposition. In the meantime the ice epidemic flourishes, domestic violence and crimes against women are not abating and children continue to be driven into dams by their parents, those seeking refuge are persecuted, abused and driven mad and our industries fall apart. Are we still the lucky country? Who knows, many don’t care and it is hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
My Daughter and some of her friends spent Easter at Confest where 5,000 lucky Australians were able to live the best life, to be themselves in an environment where caring, sharing and loving concern were the order of the day. They were able to learn, relax, dance, make music, take mud baths, hot tubs, sing, chant, eat well and a take part in a thousand other rejuvenating and restorative activities. They have returned to this harsh world knowing they hold good memories in their hearts and that they can go back next year and do it all again! They have shared with others and spread the good will far and wide and how much better we are for it. I smile every time I think of the photos of mud covered bodies with plates of food rather primly or incongruously perched on laps! That image of freedom will keep me going for a long time too!
And to something else I’ve been pondering – Daniel replied to a comment on his blog by R – I hope as you keep reading here you will realize the impossibility of maintaining a passivist worldview as I call it. Things don’t just happen, and it’s dangerous for us to assume that we can wallow in the grace of our survival from those places we weren’t meant to. I don’t believe in this middle ground any more. Yes, it might give us peace of mind, but it comes at a cost, to ourselves and others.
Those of you who are familiar with the novels of Tim Winton might like this very heart-felt plea……….http://www.theage.com.au/comment/tim-wintons-palm-sunday-plea-start-the-soulsearching-australia-20150329-1ma5so.html
I hope you’ve had an enjoyable holiday.
I visited my family homes. The one I lived in until I was 16 and the other until I officially left home and my aparents forever. I journeyed through very familiar landscapes, saw my old school and was in touch again with the mixture of feelings I have about my childhood, my experiences and my early life. The bad memories are about people and the good memories are about plants and animals, buildings and places. That probably sounds familiar to some?