Spring Pyre

A week ago we were evacuated from our home as bush fires nearby raged out of control. It was a surreal five or ten minutes, methodically collecting important documents, clean clothes, nappies. Outside it was hazy, orange coloured - the wind was fiercely blowing smoke and dust around our noses. It was hot. It wasn't bush fire season yet. It wasn't even the middle of Spring. Today as I drove along a familiar road into town, I took it slowly. There was numerous signs with warnings, there were fire trucks and rangers patrolling by the roadside, keeping a watch on smouldering trees, earthmoving. I came across two stretches of road where the fire had burnt from one side to the next. I could see a mass of burnt umber through the usually green national park. I saw a house with blackened earth on every side of it, and yet it stood in the middle, seemingly unscathed. I cried. This is nature where we live. This is a reality of the Australian bush - our fire-prone landscape, in many ways carved out and cultivated by fire itself. I want to come to terms with this element, but it still feels unknown, terrifying. In a moment's wind and crackle of flame, one could loose home, creatures, fence posts, familiar, livelihood...

And yet I carry in my hand a packet of flannel flower seeds. A native that will germinate only in moistened ground that has been burnt. How something so softly petaled, so creamy white, delicate can grow out of charred earth. That beauty can come from the flame...