Fire in The Adelaide Hills, January, 2015

The northerly was thick
with ash and smoke.
Cinders fell on tinder bush.
Our rickety house stood
as if waiting, as if cowering,
amongst trees that evolved to burn,
that thrashed in erratic gusts of heat.
We fled, carrying papers and mementoes,
medicines and photos, survival and love.

Came back next day to an untouched home
and took up rakes as water bombers flew
their endless rounds and teams of men and women
continued their brave fight, went in yellow,
came back black, sooty, and tired,
to rest and eat before moving in again.

Everyone watched the weather maps:
possible rain preceded by high winds
and dry lightning, lightning that poured
like rivers to the ground, raised
tendrils of smoke, sirens and fear.

Then rain, meaningful rain,
the scent of wet dirt and ash,
and our hearts settled
like moisture does
down the roots of trees
to the deep, still, and quiet earth. .

from when the grandkids were here a couple of days before
from when the grandkids were here a couple of days before

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(And if you want to know how it looked that first day, here is photo of our main street taken by Sarah Hughes. We live between where Sarah took this and the source of that smoke.)

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Sunday June 7th, 2015. I was ‘fixing’ my blog today and I accidentally deleted the following post from the time.

a yellowed note
in my mother’s hand
evacuation bag
People always ask, ‘What did you pack when you evacuated.’
The important things are always about those you love:
mementoes, photos, addresses and so on.

27 thoughts on “Fire in The Adelaide Hills, January, 2015

  1. Yow – scary stuff! I’ll bet the origamisauri were frightened too. Seriously, my prayers go out to those affected as well as the livestock, and I hope the danger is over.

      1. I’m glad to hear that. Natural disasters may well be the scariest. Does the burn now reduce the risk for it happening again in the next few months? I certainly hope so…

  2. I’m glad to know you are safe and your home is still standing. I’d been wondering how you were getting on. I hope the rest of the summer brings milder weather and an end to these terrible fires

  3. Great poem. As big as cloud of smoke. As long as the days of worrying. And when scrolled down there was this tiny firetruck, way too tiny to fight any flames from the furnace. This is a powerful post. Sorry it came from real life. It must have been so scary.

    1. strangely, despite it all, at the time, we both felt the house would be ok. It was scary, though.
      thanks for your comments. and thanks for the share on Facebook. I was drawn to take that photo after we came home (and found where I’d packed the camera). it is nice to have your take on it, because its use it was still intuitive. i.e. I wasn’t sure

  4. That blackness does not belong in the sky overhead. The sky is for white clouds and stars. And birds. Beautiful poem about a terrible subject. Question: How do you happen to have a copy of Acadia, The Soul of a National Park in Australia?

  5. “a yellowed note
    in my mother’s hand
    evacuation bag

    People always ask, ‘What did you pack when you evacuated.’ The important things are always about those you love: mementoes, photos, addresses and so on.”

    I enjoyed your poem “evacuation bag” but couldn’t get the link to work to find it on your blog.

    I resonated with your short poem this morning. It reminded me of clearing out our family home to sell (huge and sudden), of packing when we were leaving the country and not expecting to return (like refugees) and of our own “evacuation bag” always beside the door while living in a tsunami hazard zone in an earthquake-prone area.

    Thanks for reaching my heart.

    1. Hi Alice,
      I managed to accidentally delete that post while I was trying to change my blog to be in keeping with my new aim of working as an illustrator. in fact I was just messing with the tags on evacuation bag, and it republished it today, then I deleted it by accident. I am really thankful that you copied this bit, as I didn’t even back up that post and yours was the only copy. I have added it to this post now. I don’t remember what else it said if anything. anyhow i also added the photo of the main street, as the link to it also stopped working.
      evacuating is traumatic. I can only imagine what leaving France was like. Are you going to take your Dad’s advice (I think it was your Dad) and move east?

      1. Yes. Evacuating is traumatic.

        We’re unsure and exploring options.

        It’s easier to know to leave when a flood pours through the house or a fire is at the edge of town. You just go.

        1. You’re observant.Yes. There’s a BIG difference between thinking about maybe someday needing to leave and needing to escape right now.

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