Last Saturday, we woke up in our semi-rural house bracing ourselves for a hot day, a very hot day. The forecast was for 44 degrees celcius. Our plan was have the airconditioning on, the curtains closed and to stay inside.
However, our youngest (Mr 6 yo) became febrile, his body temperature a smidgeon cooler than outside. Being short on children's paracetamol I hotfooted it (literally!) to the nearest pharmacy. Cursing the heat and the sweat I ran into an aquaintance who runs a shop-at-home clothing business. She decided there and then to give me the 2009Autumn/Winter fashion catalogue. I gracefully took it but threw it in the garbage bin once she had left. Upon my return home my husband informed me of the bush fires that had swept across Victoria. A flick of the channel revealed the flooding that was engulfing Queensland. Oh the contradictions; and here we were in New South Wales, floods to our south and fires to our north.
Today, Monday, we wake up to 22 degrees celcius and a drizzly day. I even donned a cardigan this afternoon. Thought of that catalogue, that was so inappropriately handed to me at the pharmacy, come to mind, even regret at throwing it away. But then a sobering reminder of the state of our country comes from the radio announcer's thick, sombre voice stating that the death toll has reached 131 lives, there are 450 injured (at least 10 of whom are critical) and 750 homes have been lost.
Saturday 6th February, 2009. This date will be remembered for a long time. Even as a Sydney-sider the floods and the fires are a potent reminder of the harsh, unforgiving side of the beauty that is Australia. But, despite all of this, I love this country, my country, my home of thirty years. One of my favourite poems comes to mind:
In Dorothea MacKellar's words:
I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror --
The wide brown land for me!
We can only hope that this does not happen again, not for a long, long time.