I think I’m starting to get the hang of this living-in-a-bushfire-prone-area thing. In the last week we’ve put the fire plan into action three times – that means preparing to defend the house against a fire reported in the area. The latest of these is currently burning 2 kilometres away, and as I write this the house is locked up, the hoses are at the ready, the gutters are blocked up and full of water, and I’m watching the planes and helicopters buzzing back and forth as the CFA deals with the fire.
All of this is happening in utterly dreadful weather – it’s 45ºC outside, there’s a vile wind blowing, and the air smells of smoke.
While all of that is hard, I think the hardest part is the constant apprehension of impending disaster. Even when there’s no fire reported in the area, on days like this you find yourself sniffing the air for smoke, watching the skies, listening to the radio, and always expecting that something bad is about to happen.
Today is the 29th of January, and so far this year we have had not one drop of rain, and there is no prospect of rain in the next week, probably more. I do not remember ever in my life going through a whole month – any month of the year – without any rain at all. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, the last time there was no rain in January in this part of the world was 1930. We depend on rainfall in this house because the only water we have – for drinking, cooking, showering and gardening – comes from rainfall harvesting. We’re doing OK for water at the moment but it won’t last forever without some rain.
Honestly I wonder where this all will end.