How to go on while Australia burns

Today is cool in Melbourne. I woke to the strange sound of rain on the tin roof; it is easy to forget that there are so many fires still burning in Australia when rain falls. Yesterday Australia had its hottest day on record, and Penrith was the hottest place on earth. I doubt that much rain is hitting the areas that need it right now.

It is hard to think of anything at the moment other than our ravaged land, our people who have lost homes and livelihoods, people who have not survived the catastrophic fires. I find myself refreshing the browser of the Incidents and Warnings website to see if there is any change, if the fires will stop. The news tells me that the fires will probably continue for another eight weeks, and I can’t even comprehend what this must feel for the people most affected.

A few days ago we were camping in Harrietville, nestled in the valley between Mt Bulla, Mt Hotham and Feathertop. The water in the river was warmer than it should be, but the trees were still green. We made the call to leave when the fires began at Hotham and surrounds. We felt like we could be a burden on the community if it all turned bad.

I am lucky. I have a house in the inner city. I am safe. My house and my land are safe. I don’t rely on my land to ensure my family have food, water and shelter.

I turn my mind to my writing. It seems useless in these times. Who cares about my story when their world is burning down? I read instead: The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone, Three Women, The Superior Spectre. Three Women leaves me feeling vulnerable and aching. I listen to The Van Apfel Girls Are Gone as we drive through the dehydrated landscape and somehow it amplifies the story.

At the start of every year I set my goals for the year, but this year it has felt too hard. I can’t seem to bring myself to sit down and do it. It doesn’t seem to matter in these days. My goals seem to be much smaller and feel more like my hopes for the world.

It’s now day five of 2020 and I have forced myself to sit with these fractious feelings. I have donated* what I can to the efforts of the firefighters and to the support of those who have lost so much (see below for ways to donate). There is nothing else I can do right now with this. Our useless government will continue to be useless whether or not I refresh my feed to see what else #ScottfromMarketing has to say. The greater community will, in the meantime, do everything we can to ensure the fires eventually stop and that people have the essentials.

I am easing myself back into the words with the admin: filling out my submissions spreadsheet with due dates coming up. Reminding myself that I am a writer again. I am warming myself up to work on my manuscript again. There are quiet moments here and there in my house as my husband takes our middle son for long driving lessons and the other two do their own things. I commit to throwing some words down about my feelings about what is going on right now, about the strange feelings I had while I was up in Harrietville; they may become something one day, or not. I commit to finishing my visual goals in my diary today; I know they help me during the year. I shuffle my to-be-read books around so that something lighter can rise to the top.

How to help bushfire victims

Cash is the best way to help bushfire victims. My chosen charities at this stage are Red Cross and Vic Emergency Bushfire Appeal. I also chose to support Haus of Dizzy who is donating to the First Nations People who have been affected. Some official charities to donate to are:

(NOTE: The featured image is from TripAdvisor of the Harrietville Caravan Park. We always forget to take photos when we are there. The creek this year has much less water.)

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