Returning Home, Sweet Home
This final instalment of my Australian Bushfire Diary was originally published in 2009. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.
Australian Bushfire Diary: Tuesday, February 24, 2009 – DAY 18
Home, Sweet Home?
After an extremely hesitant but positive response from a local authority that we could return home but must remain vigilant about the fires that are almost too close for comfort, we return home.
We had literally moved in two days before the fires. For a place we lived in for two days and evacuated from for almost three weeks, “home” is a relative term. In our absence, we came to terms with there being no home to go home to. So to actually have the things we grieved over already, to see the rooms we thought were gone, is actually a little anti-climactic, in a sick sort of way.
For somebody who should be elated to return “home” to a sense of normality, I don’t even feel comfortable in my own skin, much less in this strange house filled with unfinished projects that we were forced to abandon on evacuation.
Then again, I am The Professional Hobo – a proverbially homeless wanderer who only rented this house as a temporary base. This should not be as strange a sensation to me as it seems to be.
Maybe it is because my cry is not a lone one; many people who have been evacuated and subsequently returned home are feeling similar things. All I can do is have confidence that our bed will soon enough feel like our bed, our kitchen table a place to eat, and our living room a place to relax. It will be a haven soon enough; this I must believe.
The fires in Victoria are far from over. A friend summed it up nicely when she said “this won’t be over until it snows.” Although I certainly hope the fires will be under control in a month or so, I also believe that we are all “once burnt, twice shy” (please pardon the sickly appropriate pun – I just couldn’t help myself) this season. We will all wearily approach the hot and sunny days for the rest of this year (and others to come) that would normally be cause for celebration.
We are also not likely home for good either. We are already being told that this Friday is going to pose extreme fire threats, and that we will likely evacuate again.
But the constantly evolving activities of the first few weeks of being a part of the Victorian Bush Fires seems to have curbed a bit. There is still drama, politics, high emotions, and tragedy. But there is also a “pick up the pieces and get back to the grindstone” mentality that takes over and keeps us all going. If we do not move forward in life, we fall backwards; there is no standing still.
We all know that eventually life will return to some sense of normality, however different it is from what we knew. We all know that where forests and land is brown and burnt, with a rainy winter season will start to recover and return to greenery.
And so it is with this knowledge that life prevails, that we all simply carry on, in the face of the huge fires that continue to burn.
All we can do now, is carry on.
This marks the end of the Victorian Bush Fire Diaries. The fires are far from over, but after 18 days, you – the reader – have a good idea of what life has been like. We are in this for the long haul. Thanks to everybody for your support, and keep reading The Professional Hobo for continued (and hopefully, more lighthearted!) observations from life on the road.
TWO WEEKS LATER:
As you can imagine, even between Feb 24th and now, so much water has passed under the bridge. We evacuated and returned home three more times. We woke up to beautiful rain one morning, and also felt more of those hot dry winds that made our stomachs turn. The daily drama and politics continues and has evolved on all fronts, as they do.
I am pleased to say that I am publishing this post from the comfort of my sunny desk at home, and that after two days of rain, the fires burning nearby are projected to be under control in the next few days. For the first time since the fires began a month ago, I can comfortably leave home without my passport, laptop, and evacuation bag in the car.
What I can say now, is that I have a new understanding for why so many Aussies prefer winter!