Thursday, February 19th, 2009 – DAY THIRTEEN
It seems like every night I sleep somewhere else. I wake up in the middle of the night – as I do, to pee – and have to re-orient myself before trying to get up. I struggle to remember where I am, how I am oriented (is the door to my right? Or at my feet? What will I trip over between the bed and the toilet?), and if I’m lucky I have thought ahead and have a headlamp at my side, since surely finding a light switch will be impossible.
It is a different world in Melbourne, on the best of days. The differences are all the more glaring when rural bush fires are introduced. The majority of the people we chat with in Melbourne are not even aware that the fires are still burning. “Oh, is that fire stuff still happening?” is a common line we hear throughout the day, making us cringe each time. Yikes. The fire consumes us, literally and figuratively. How these people can be blissfully unaware of the continuously burning fires, some of which are only an hour away and on two sides of the city, is unknown to me. But then again, maybe it isn’t so foreign; once the media loses hold of a story (as it has done), so too does the public.
After a day of running around in Melbourne, we head back “up the hill” to Alexandra. On the way, we pass some very large plumes of smoke that give us shudders, reminding us gently that fire can flare up and that the battle is far from over. We agree that we must be crazy for driving back INTO the fire zones to return home, when most traffic is going the opposite way.
Returning to town is a stark reminder of the dark and smoky world that is – and will continue to be – Alexandra and the nearby towns. The pit in my stomach and growing nausea during the two hour drive home is proof.