Monday, February 09, 2009

A taste of living on the edge of a war zone

Like everything in life, good or bad, this past weekend has been an incredible learning experience.  As I type, the death toll is 107 or 108 (depending which news article you read) and is expected to rise further as police and emergency workers trawl through the charred rubble of the state.  One of my fellow Ravellers, Raches, has lost her home and possibly her husband - he has not been seen for more than a day. Fairfax is updating a Google Map of the devastation.  It is very sobering to realise that we were only a few kilometres and one wind change away from being a point on the map.

Many people who lost their homes and sometimes their loved ones describe their town as a war zone.  And as I reflect on this past weekend I realise this is a good analogy.  All weekend, J & I were glued to ABC radio and the internet, trying to keep track of what was happening, trying to decide what was best to do and realising that we were in a situation that we had little control over, subject the the often unpredictable forces of nature.  After we had packed a box with our important documents and set up hoses there was little we could do but follow the news, follow the weather reports, follow the CFA updates and look and smell outside.

We became obsessive watching and listening to the news until I realised that this way lay madness.  You cannot put your whole life on hold.  Somewhat guiltily we put on the laundry (was it wrong to use water while fires raged in the distance?) and tried to watch a DVD while J kept track of the news on his laptop. 

If we had to go, what would we take with us?  The weekend taught me how little material possession matter.  We kept the cats indoors and had their cages ready if we needed to make a getaway.  I looked at my stash and rued the fact I had just finished bringing all my purchases home from work.  There was hundreds of dollars of yarn that could be replaced but would be a huge loss.  I looked at my pile of completed but unworn hats and vowed that if the house survived, I'd to post them out the following week to various charities.  There was no point to them just hanging around not being used.  I also decided that I would make more of an effort to knit up and enjoy the gorgeous luxury yarns - I wanted to get some pleasure from them before they disappeared.  We'd take our computer boxes and photos and a couple of bags of clothes.  There was no room for any more and I was amazed at how easily I was able to emotionally let go of all my stuff.

I wandered around the house.  What else to do?  I picked up my needles and started knitting another hat.  I had no idea if it would be for an Israeli soldier or homeless Big Issue vendor or someone who had lost everything in the Victorian blaze.  But there was a comfort in the knitting.  It was something productive to do.

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