Friday, April 13, 2018

Caldyanup Diaries # 6

When I was a kid growing up, they were still whaling in this town. The spotter pilot flew around looking and when he found a pod of whales, he'd radio the coordinates to the chasers. The fleet of old Norwegian ships would take off like a mob of Orcas on the hunt, a 'bone in their teeth' as the water curled away from the bow.

These days the spotter pilots fly around over country, not sea, looking for smoke during the wildfire season. When they see smoke they radio it in to the office and, depending on the situation, someone will send out a fleet of trucks or water bombers. 'Air attack' the bombers are called and useful in areas of impenetrable terrain.

The neighbouring district have been burning this week. The planned burns to reduce fuel loads in case of wildfires also rejuvenate the bush with new growth and smoke-germinated seeds. I was in the tower when three burns went up in quick succession - massive clouds of smoke rising high on the horizon fifty or sixty kilometres away. I listened to the chatter of the spotters from that district and the next one, as they called in smoke descriptions and coordinates. The spotter in my district radioed me to say those last two smokes I called in were private burns and there was No Attention Required.

Something I've noticed and wondered about: The spotters from the northern regions are no longer just calling in smoke. They are also calling in whales. Dead whales. The body of a humpback. A forgotten fin whale's carcass, from the mass stranding last week. Bush smoke and dead whales. There's something that feels apocalyptic about this juxtaposition. There's something in this picture, and I don't know what it is. All I know is that I've been obsessing over it all week.


  1. I agree Sarah - there is definitely something apocalyptic about this. I had a cuppa and a chat with a close friend the other day. She, like me, really never fit into the social mess anyway. Standing on the sidelines we are both watching as the world falls apart on so many levels: loss of trust in media and government, impotence and inaction of governments to govern, neurotic children obessed with a digitally driven narcissistic culture, parents unable/unequipped to deal with their children effectively, weather systems completely disrupted, humans completely out of sync. with the natural world.....I could go on. As you may know - I gave up trying to save the world a while ago. I'm convinced we are heading for an apocalypse and there's little we can do about it. Existence goes in cycles and that's that. I'm not distressed about it anymore - it feels inevitable, even with the huge efforts of the minority who are trying to turn things around. I think it's preordained. I endeavour to take things one day at a time and enjoy the remaining beauty of the world - and it's people when their humanity shines through the filth.

  2. Maybe, on another topic, they were calling in whale carcasses in time for the MR Pro? Shark warnings and all.