Tuesday, 12 January 2016

fiddling while Rome burns

#midlife blog ~ crestingthehill.com.au

If you follow my facebook page at all (and if you don't then please take two seconds to click here - I promise to only post once or twice a day at the most!) then you would know that we have been in the front line of a huge bushfire. In Australia bushfires are fairly common occurrences but this one was a doozy!

It started a reasonable way away from us and we didn't know about it until the sky started changing colour and getting darker. Around mid morning I went out onto our balcony and the picture above is the view that waited for me - and it just had to be photographed!

It's strange how detached we are from the reality of other people's lives. Here I was, while other people's properties were possibly burning, snapping a picture. A couple of hours later I was sitting in the hairdresser's when reality started to kick in - the radio was on, and every 10 minutes there was the emergency warning siren (whoooop whoooop) and the fire alert warnings for towns only 20 minutes away from us to evacuate immediately. It was getting bigger than Ben Hur and I was sitting there being primped - it was just so weird. I felt a bit like Nero fiddling while Rome burned (two Roman references in one paragraph - that's weird too!)

feeling like Nero fiddling while Rome burns

The other strange feeling was going to bed that night and the fire just seemed to not exist any more because it was dark. I assumed when I woke up in the morning it would all be fixed, only to hear that it had changed direction, wiped out the historical town of Yarloop and was heading our way with a 200km perimeter to it! Holy Mackerel! It all starts getting real when evacuation plans are being discussed, paperwork sorted and cats checked. Then you start thinking "where would we go with two cats?" When both highways out of here are cut off because of the fire, your options become quite limited.

While writing this the fire is still burning and has a status of "contained but not controlled" - it is dependent upon the weather and the fire crews and God's grace. Calamity and catastrophe are often only a short drive away. Sometimes we know it and sometimes we don't - we have friends who have been evacuated from their homes, local people with families staying with them because they've had to abandon their properties with almost no notice as a huge fire front descended on them. It's times like this that I realize we are often only a heartbeat away from disaster and it makes me stop to think about what is really important. 

What I do know is that there is nothing materially that I would be devastated to lose. We aren't particularly attached to our stuff, so if we had to leave we'd take some documents, as many family keepsakes and photos as possible, our laptops and our cats (and some clothes!) and that's about it. At least it makes leaving (if we had to) a little easier when there isn't much that is screaming to be saved.

Have you ever thought about what you value enough to haul out to your car with 15 minutes warning before an inferno descends on you? It's an interesting concept - how attached are we to our possessions, and do we own them or do they own us?


#midlife blog ~ crestingthehill.com.au

25 comments:

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    1. it all looks much better today and they're opening one of the highways tomorrow if all goes well - yay!

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  2. I live in the Blue Mountains so every summer I do a little mental check list of what I'd take if I had to leave because of fire. Like you, it would be documents, family keepsakes and computers and hard drives (I've put all our photos on them). The priority would always be our dog. It is so scary when bush fires get close. Glad things are looking better there.


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    1. thanks Tamuria - it is a relief to have it under control (for now) and to not have to work out where to go if we had to leave - the Blue Mountains have had some huge bushfires over the years so I can appreciate you'd have a plan!

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  3. Other than family I'd grab my portable hard drive as it has thousands of photos. My mums eternity and engagement rings (sentimental not value) my iPad (of course) and if time my old photos. Most are in one box in the spare bedroom. Clothes etc would be last I could get more. Thinking of this now I really should write a list of all my important documents account/serial numbers then I could grab just one piece of paper too. I can't imagine how frightening it would be. I'd probably grab something rubbish and spend the rest of my life wondering why I took it! Take care.

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    1. It's funny what you think is important when you are in a panic. I think having a list or a folder of paperwork is what I've learnt from all this. You can't take the filing cabinet with you when you're running out the door!

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  4. Look after yourself and stay safe. I think as long as my family are safe, I don't think much else matters - but I'd be heart broken to lose my jewelry (presents and family bits) and my teddy (been with me since I was tiny).

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    1. it's lovely that we have little mementoes that mean the world to us - luckily they're easy to grab if we ever have to leave!

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  5. What an interesting question, I cant think of one thing I'd choose to take, other than my family and pets ofc. I do hope that you and your neighbours stay safe, and feel for everyone affected by the fire x

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    1. thanks Sarah - it all looks good now but it was an interesting "exercise" in learning what was of value to me :)

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  6. Yes, I have thought about this. Thankfully, never experienced it, but know people that have been through floods and have lost everything. It is a helpless feeling. Wishing the best for your area. Take care Leanne.

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    1. thanks Laurie - they seem to have it under control now but it was a bit hairy there for a while and you certainly learn what is worth saving and what you'd leave behind!

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  7. I am not very attached to my possessions. It would be my laptop, important documents and of course, our bunnies as well. The fire was devastating and like you say, it feels like you're watching a movie or news until it reaches closes and affects people you know! I know of people who were evacuated too and thankfully I had been able to get in touch. I feel so much for some who have lost everything. Thanks for sharing with #abitofeverything

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    1. I didn't realize you had Aussie connections - and I'm glad they are all okay. There were some very close calls for some people!

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  8. Wow, scary! Such an amazing picture though. Obviously we don't have a lot of fires in Seattle, but east of the mountains it is very dry, and last summer was really bad for brush fires. Stay safe!

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    1. thanks Lana - it's funny how you live with the threat of something and don't really give it a second thought - until it starts looming on your front doorstep! It's pretty much under control and hopefully won't get huge like that again.

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  9. Eeek - hope you're ok! I live in the UK and we've had awful flooding here recently - people's houses and possessions have been ruined. We live up a hill so were safe but could watch the flood water rising in the village below - it was a bit scary and I feel so sorry for the people who have lost so much. It did make me think about what I would save though which would be (after loved ones) my laptop which is the key to everything, our collection of books that we received as wedding presents (although there are over a hundred of them!) and some jewellery of sentimental value. So I guess not much (even though I'd hate to lose anything!) #abitofeverything

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    1. hi Maddy - I saw all the flooding in the UK on the news the other day - it was huge! You know things like that are possible, but it's awful when it's close to home. Our fires are now "90% contained" which is a good report to hear!

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  10. Hope everything is better now! I've always thought about what I would grab and it's honestly very little. I love so much that we own, but if I didn't have much time to pick and choose - my pets, my computer (for work + photo purposes), and my camera would probably be the must grabs! Thanks so much for linking up with us over at the #BestOfTheBlogosphere Link-Up!

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    1. my pleasure Ashley - and thanks for hosting. All's good here now but it was close there for a while!

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  11. That's just terrifying! I'm glad the hear you're ok though, Leanne! When I was living in Australia the fires would scare the #$%^ out of me. The closest I got to disaster there was when there was the hail storm in Sydney and I had no roof over my apparent for a month. Hopefully the fires will cease soon. xx Abby

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    1. Hi Abby - bushfires (and floods) are definitely part of the "joy" factor for living in Australia! Luckily there are lots of other things to make up for them :)

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  12. It is so odd with tragedies and things like that how life does keep going and moves on despite everything. We have had some fires close to us too and were getting worried we would have to evacuate, it definitely makes you consider what matters most.

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    1. I often think how everyone is going about their daily lives and yet all over the place there are tragedies happening - I guess that is the human spirit in action. But I must say that having things happen this close to home rattled my cage a little!

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  13. It's horrible to think that your home could be wiped out so easily. We've had floods here in the UK quite bad over the last 2 winters. Last Christmas day the flood water broke the banks of our local river and the town was under partially under water for a few days. Luckily I live up a hill about a mile away so we were never in danger, but I felt so sorry for all those people who have their houses flooded with dank, muddy water. I hope they keep the fires under control and send kind thoughts to all your brave firefighters and people who have had to leave their homes.

    Sally @ Life Loving
    #LifeLovingLinkie

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