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Tuesday, February 04, 2003
Out of sync

I composed (composed? ... what airs you give yourself - Ed.) several pieces while in Australia that did not get published. Either because I wanted to confirm a fact or because there was too much else to say, the post was withheld. There are several pieces that you should find interesting, Mrs Trellis, and this is one of them.

Many people have asked if I saw anything of the bush fires while I was there. Here's the answer:
The bush fires (20 January)

So far, I have not been near a bush fire. I have been through burnt areas and I've seen the tiniest grass patch on fire getting the treatment from the local fire service. This visit, I missed out on a trip to Canberra and I'm glad I did: the city was completely cut off for a while and the devastation has been quite considerable. This morning, and yesterday, the effects came to Melbourne.

At about 3.50 a.m., I awoke to the smell of burning. As dawn broke, the sky was overcast (or was it a pall of smoke?) and the dark/light was very strange. As the day went on, the smell got stronger and it induced coughing. My eyes became very sore and the atmosphere was most unpleasant. If this is what it's like away from the burning areas (I guess that the nearest fire must be 100 km away) it must be awful up close.

I wonder if the people who live in threatened areas plan their lives with the expectation that, one day, their houses will be destroyed. I wonder if they have back up copies of all their important documents in other locations. One cannot imagine the horror of losing everything, assuming that one survives - several people in the Canberra area have died.
The annual bush fires are the price one pays, I suppose, for the stunning countryside, woods and weather.

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