Sunday, January 12, 2020
The Emergency Wombat AirBNB Experiment
I've been putting water out for the birds. The inlet is salty now, too salty to drink and so this enamelled cauldron of water sits on a directors chair. I've put a stick in, so the insects can drink without drowning. The water becomes browner every day with tannins from the marri tree leaves that fall all around us. The water carrier is directly opposite where I sit on my days off, reading or writing in my notebook. Birds of many feathers seem delighted. That brief rain a fortnight ago was the first in a long time. I'm delighted too. Sit still long enough and nature will always throw on an event for me. It's better than watching the royals on TV. A few days ago, I saw a kingfisher, fisher of men, hunter of fish, his wings so so blue and his beak so sharp. I saw a white breasted robin smash a centipede against the cast iron cauldron. I see the quail family every day, popcorn babies spinning as they forage for bugs in the leaf litter.
The author Jackie French is a legend in Australia. She's written more than two hundred books for adults and children. Basically she writes about whatever takes her fancy; cooking, wildlife, gardening. Her mainstay is wombats. She's also created a wombat sanctuary where she lives and in an article for the Sydney Morning Herald about the bush fires she reports this incredible observation:
I have seen wombats share their holes with snakes, quolls, possums and a nervous swamp wallaby
French has been in and out of evacuation for the last six weeks during the fires. Yes, she knows wombats. She has Wombat Street Cred and she's seen these critters share their underground burrows with creatures desperate to survive during the terrible fires. I don't know if I could share my home with a needy tiger snake. I just can't even. But a burrow? Gah!
It's been quiet work at the fire tower. I could see the smoke from the Stirlings fire but apart from that one, the only excitement has come from a local renegade who let his permit burn carry on into the prohibited season. I come down the mountain tired, sore of eyes and happy spending my day on a granite mountain peak.
But the anxiety of our nation is palpable and I believe we all now carry it in our bodies. We can't ignore it. This is climate change. This is what climate scientist Ross Garnaut warned us about twelve years ago. He got the exact year and conditions right. We can bitch and whinge about looters and arsonists but we all know that such human blights are ones that arrive after the catastrophe, not preceding it.
DO NOT FORGET. (Writes Jackie French)
Because those who make vast sums of money from businesses that, as a side effect, destroy our planet, put vast sums into PR or political campaigns so that laws are never made to hinder their actions. The politicians who denied climate change, the need for disaster planning and firefighting equipment, and who cut fire budgets by 30-40 per cent this year alone – despite warnings from their own experts that we faced catastrophes this year – will use political spin ... let’s just call it lying … to try to make you forget before the next election.
Please read her article here: There is a lot of good writing coming from our crisis of country, confidence and climate and this article is one of the best. We've been lucky in the west, so far, and I repeat ... lucky. Nothing more than that. There are many months to go yet.
In the mean time, my son tries not to look at the dams. He knows they will empty whether he watches them or not. I save water from my showers in the mornings. We put water out for the birds and insects. This small effort is laughable, incomparable to the day my son has to call the water truckers in to fill dams, but we do it anyway. Still, we watch for smoke. Every day, we watch for smoke.