Monday, October 28, 2013

About stuff . . . .

We survived our 'catastrophic' Wednesday, when the winds howled hot and angry from the northwest, bringing the fire at Bilpin to about 13 kms from here.

"How far is it to Bilpin?"

"About 20 kms, if you drive along Bells Line of Road."

"Do fires drive along the road?"

We were showered with burnt gumtree leaves, talking on the phone on the back verandah, one fluttered down beside my foot and I picked it up.  It was still warm from the fire.

Wednesday's smoke travelled south (to the left)

On 'not so catastrophic' Thursday, the wind turned around and howled cool and snarly from the southwest.  The smoke that was travelling south on Wednesday, travelled north on Thursday.  I figured the fire was on a zig zag course for Kurrajong.

Thursday's smoke travelled north (to the right)

On Friday, it was as still as could possibly be.  Almost all day.  The smoke was tired from travelling first south, then north, and decided to settle down for a nice long rest.  Over Kurrajong.  Cough, cough, cough.  Even the dogs were sneezing.  You could scarcely see the neighbours' houses.

Since then, the weather has calmed considerably and we've relaxed somewhat.  Water bombing aeroplanes and helicopters continue to fly over daily, but we hardly look up at them anymore.

Logically thinking, I couldn't see how a fire was going to reach us here.  We are surrounded by other houses and relatively open country.  Our house isn't nestled in the bush like the houses at Springwood and Winmalee.  But I couldn't shake the thought that, well, what if . . .

So I did pack a large box of photo albums and a small box of 'treasures' including jewellery, thumb drives of irreplaceable information and our passports (although Mike's expired almost a year ago - he's obviously not planning any travel anytime soon!)

Mike saw the stuff sitting in the hallway by the front door and insisted he needed to add some stuff as well.  Out came a handful of files - all to do with his cars!!  If the worst case scenario had occurred, we'd have saved the paperwork - but not the cars themselves!

Anyway, on this day of strange limbo living, I got to thinking about the things I have - the stuff.  I did a walk around of the house and mentally noted all the stuff that I would indeed want to save in the event of an oncoming fire.

In the sewing room, instantly I see my sewing machines.  That's plural.  How could I leave them?  On the quilting frame is a quilt that I've almost finished quilting for a dear friend of mine.  How could I leave that?

Then there's my stash!  Gulp!  Both of fabric and knitting yarns . . . .

In the next room, lying on the bed, is a quilt top that I've been making for years for my son and daughter in law.  It started with a piece of fabric that they bought on the trip to New York.  It has thousands of little pieces of fabric that I have stitched together and it means a lot to me.  How could I leave that?

In the hall is a cupboard of things, a conglomeration of ornaments, vases, school craft creations and antique things, all with significance attached.  In the top is the hat that my Dad wore whilst mowing the lawn the day or so before he died.  How could I leave that?

In the next room, in the top of the wardrobe, are boxes of memories.  First baby shoes, paintings from school, ballet costumes, my wedding dress from a million years ago (no, I'd leave that).

In the next room is a trunk that belonged to my mum.  It contains some of her belongings.  In the wardrobe is a box containing the wedding dress I made for my daughter in law a few years ago.

In the kitchen, there's my coffee machine, my KitchenAid mixer and my AGA stove.  All replaceable, but I love them.  Among the knick knacks is the little teapot that my Mum got from her family for her twenty-first birthday.  It has been broken and glued quite a number of times, but she treasured it.  On the wall is a weather house.  Is that what you call it?  Where the girl in her sun bonnet comes out of the house if the weather is fine and the man in the raincoat comes out if the weather is wet.  It was a wedding present of my Mum and Dad's when they were married in 1948.  How could I leave that?

I've come to the conclusion that I would need a semi-trailer and at least three days notice if I was really required to evacuate my treasured belongings.

And yet, I see on the television the people who have indeed lost everything.  Notwithstanding the shock and the sadness of losing all their possessions, often the comment is made "but we're all safe, that's what really matters, the rest of it was just stuff . . . ."

What would you choose?  Could you quickly decide what items you would save of your 'stuff'?

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ominous . . .

Last Thursday we had hot gale force winds blowing from the northwest.  Great bushfire weather, hot strong winds, low humidity, tinder dry bush.  To our southwest, I watched the smoke of a fire at Springwood and Winmalee which ended up devouring over 200 homes. 

There was also a bushfire near Lithgow.  A column of smoke towered over us and stretched across to the city.

The sunset that evening had a red glow.

The fire has travelled closer to us, and is now impacting people as close as Bilpin.

This morning, we have total calm.

And much smoke.

The weather people are predicting that the wind will again pick up today and that tomorrow and more so Wednesday will bring weather that is described as 'catastrophic' with regard to the spread of the fire.

It feels like the calm before the storm.