I’ve started today’s blogpost so many times that, in Australia, it’s already Tuesday.
I can’t see why anyone would want to hear about the aftermath of bushfires when we’re all doing the COVID-19 thing. I’m at risk for the virus the way I was in trouble with bushfire smoke (and for the same reasons) so I feel like a world expert in living in a small space right now and seeing most friends online.
I won’t talk about the virus here, unless you ask. I made a special slot in my life for talking about the fires because so many of you wanted to hear, but you can see from the strangeness of this week in most Western countries that the actual emergency inundates you and what you need is time out.
What’s really strange at this moment in my life is that a lot of people are telling me their stories from earlier, the ones that hurt too much at the time. I’ll only repeat one of them. Imagine driving down the road and seeing fire across the mountains just a few miles away. It’s like a horizon of fire at your front door. This friend is in the next valley to me, one valley closer to the fires. She is safe and I am safe, but both of us are still recovering the physical whammy of it.
The fires are gone, but they’ve left effects. I am so tired that some days I sit at the computer and stare at it. I don’t even have the energy to will it to think for me. Tomorrow I start building up my exercise a bit and getting my energy back. I am taking Vitamin B for the stress and watching Star Trek (the second series) when things get too much. All this means I meet my deadlines, which is the big thing.
I’m not the only one recovering. A friend of mine visited Mogo. Remember the zoo that was saved by the amazingness of everyone who works there? Well, the new cub is gorgeous, I’m told, and the lion roared at a child who insisted on teasing it. Stupid child – but how nice that the lion still roars. My friend’s house is still standing, even though the yard and shed are gone and the pool needs much fixing. If I went down to Mogo I could stay in Broulee and hear that roar at night.
What my friend calls the ‘overweight unicorns’ are not doing so well. Rhinos are being kept away from the public until they are less jittery. My guess is that they are the animals showing the need for healing, but that all the animals are still just coping.
I don’t know what’s happening with our economy. We were one step too far about a month ago. My next book will come out when it can, and my last book has to carry the weight of my earnings on that front. The bits of the Arts that got through the fires (because of being in the right big city, mainly) are not getting through now. This is true of a bunch of other countries… but we’re going to have over a year of disasters of exceptional proportions. And I’m tired. My concept of buying presents and treats from those who need help and buying things one wants, which, I said, will work across arrange of crises, proved just a bit too insightful.
You don’t need insight. You don’t need reports on the state of supermarket binge-shopping, nor the fact that even disaster tourism is temporarily gone. You need to read things like the lions still roaring.
Let me give you three morsels of happiness:
- We have the most amazing pure air here in Canberra. The average pollution level is 0.
- Autumn leaves are here and the nights are colder. I had to change summer bedding to a doona last night, for summer bedding doesn’t work when it’s only eight degrees outside. This means we have lovely sunny days and it’s very easy to slip outside and stand in the sun and feel… human.
- The birds are back. There aren’t as many of them and I really miss the morning kookaburra, but birdsong tells me where I am in a day. The raven that was missing for a year or so (I saw him when I went shopping but never heard him from my flat) has returned with particular soul-destroying wails. This means there are two Australian ravens in my soundscape. Maybe the kookaburra survived and moved away because laughter could compete with one raven but not two.