After the fires
On Sunday I went to visit my dear friend Pip, who lives in one of the areas devastated by firestorm 4 weeks ago, on what is now known as Black Saturday. She was lucky – her house survived, quite miraculously. Most other houses in the area were destroyed. The devastation was awful – it rendered us speechless. It was also surprising – as we drove up the mountain there seemed little evidence of what had happened there, but then all of a sudden, there were crashed, burnt out cars at the side of the road, and remains of houses – just rubble, really. And black trees, black ground.
This bushland is on Pip’s block. There used to be thick undergrowth.
Here you can see the miracle of Pip’s house – the fire surrounded it. You can see from the scars the way it burned around and around… but the house didn’t catch fire. Pip had already evacuated.
This is what’s left of the log pile. The scattered cinders on the ground were logs for the wood stove. The five charred stumps are the logs that were too hard and dense to be split by the guy who split all the other firewood.
This isn’t a great photo… if you look carefully though, you’ll see a kangaroo behind the trees on the left hand side. This was the first ‘roo we saw on Sunday. He was on his own. Pip said the kangaroos had slowly been returning. Later that day I saw a gang of about six, all hopping through the bush. They stopped when they saw me and went back the other way. So much wildlife was killed too. That some are around, and now returning, is good.
There are other signs of the land recovering. We ate tomatoes that had grown in Pip’s vegetable garden since the fires. The rose bushes, black and charred, have small green shots emerging from their bases. Baby steps. But all of this is exceptional. So much has been lost and destroyed. For every miracle, there is much to mourn.
Our politicians so often disappoint us. I found this article by Leunig, from last weekend’s Age, stirring, and to the point. With friends that evening we discussed it, and read passages aloud. It resonated very strongly with us, and that is not always typical of Leunig – he can polarise views. This one is worth reading.
Also from Saturday’s Age, Chloe Hooper wrote this very moving article about the injured wildlife and the healing efforts that are part of the recovery.