Back to the fire tower ... My first day this season up the mountain was a schedule 5, which is the highest fire danger rating on the scale from 1 to 5. It's a different eco system up so high. I spent most of the day fighting stink bugs, those little black and orange ones that looked like wasps as they flew towards me. They were so enthusiastically mating during their mass stink bug orgy, that they got stuck in my hair or on my clothes and I ended the day feeling quite dirtied. For those of you who don't know the Australian bush, stink bugs exude an oxalic (or similar) acid that I guess is a pheromone to fellow stink bugs. For me, it's just gross.
My colleague on the fire tower said he quite likes the smell, which is weird.. But we are weird anyway, as is the tendency for most fire watchers. In America, people like us are called freaks on peaks because, after a certain amount of time at the top of a mountain looking for smoke, the brain starts trying little tricks on us. It's a very similar experience to being at sea: long periods of boredom punctuated by moments of intense anxiety and having to be alert 24/7. That's probably why they hired me and also why we are not allowed to work more than four days straight. Our eyes get sore. Our brains get sore.
It was one of those hot, steamy, thunderstormy days when every bug in the universe hatched out. Apparently lightning was approaching. We are told that when we get lightning at the top of the mountain, we should stand on the wooden floor of the tower and "not touch anything". I'm just glad the comms tower is earthed out.