Smoke descriptions are one of the most important pieces of information that I use when working the fire season in the south west of Western Australia. From my lookout, I describe what the smoke is doing. This indicates what kind of plant matter the fire is burning (colour) how the fire is behaving (standing up, drifting etc) and what the fire is about to do (heavy, billowing). Smoke behaviour is communicated, in what may seem an arcane code, back to the office, where everyone there has to decide what to do next. 'Send out a truck? Several trucks? Water bombers?' For about four months of the year I sit and watch for smokes rising suddenly from forest, farms and suburbia.
Anyway, my new neighbour, this adventure guy in camo escaping a bad marriage and/or something something is still ensconced in Old Smokey. Tonight I drove in from the city. He'd removed the branches that fell in the last storm on the driveway and set them to one side. Careful like. I'm still feeling cranky at Struth who let him stay at Old Smokey but in the mornings I'm hearing these cheery conversations which makes me think Camo Man is now Struth's deckie.
A Bravo one one one filed from the hut's chimney. Blue. Fine. Column. A quietly smoking log. A gentle smoke.