Orange Haze

For some, the beginning of summer is a welcomed event because it chases the winter blues away. People dream about walking in the sun shine, taking cool dips in the pool and smelling the pleasant aroma of all the beautiful coloured flowers that greet the sun.

For others, there is a deep seated dread of the humid days ahead. Not to mention the glaring sun that is relentless in sending out oppressive heat, which delights in taking captives and laughs when people lock themselves away in air-conditioned building to escape the heat.

And for a small group of people, it signifies the beginning of something else altogether – the “fire season”.

I live at the base of a mountain that shimmers blue. I remember when the paddocks surrounding this area used to be green but over the years the grass has receded due to a decade long draught and what does thrive is more golden in colour. As the years past, the colourful foreign plants died in the never ending heat and lack of rain water, but the native plants remained strong.

These days, I hardly ever see anything other than Australian native plants growing in gardens. Yes, there are a few rose bushes, but not as many as there used to be. Thankfully, the native plants come in a range of colour, so it’s not all bad.

Another colour that is ripe at the moment is orange. The last two days have been shrouded in an orange haze. The cause of this is bush fires!

A 20km front moves steadily towards a built up area, not far from where I live (but far enough away to not worry me personally). No homes have been lost…yet…but I have it on good authority that there’s a good chance that it will happen (no matter what the media are saying).

I live in a city, but the city is on the edge of the Australian bush. Every year bush fires threaten the homes in this area. It’s a part of life. Last year we were lucky, this year summer isn’t even here and the fires have begun. And they strike with a vengeance.

I work with a volunteer fireman. He worked all day yesterday in the office, spent all night fighting the fire, and still came to work today. He had no sleep. Although he did go home at 3pm exhausted, we all know that after a few hours sleep, he’ll be back on the line trying to save people’s homes during the night. And it was this person who told me the truth about the fire raging towards a community not more than 10 minutes drive from where I live.

The smell of smoke is in everything; it is everywhere. The orange sky is a constant reminder of how bad things really are. Thankfully, the wind has eased now, which might mean that homes could be saved. But what about the heat of tomorrow? Or the next day? Or the heat of the next three months?

Colour…it’s so descriptive. It’s all around us and most of us take it for granted.

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