Sunday, January 13, 2013
Now I remember.
For a week, Fibrotown has been getting on with business under a haze of smoke. The streets are full of people in bright orange, their reflective strips flashing in the sunlight as they walk. We wake in the morning with the smell of smoke in the air, rising with the heat of the day. We go to sleep to the wail of fire engines echoing through the night. The highway opens and closes.
A marquee city has sprung up at the Fibrotown Showground, full of services to support volunteer firefighters in the area. It looks for all the world as though an epic music festival is about to begin.
Mr6 plays fire rescue on the rug.
The bushfires are down the coast a bit, near the homes of friends, but all are safe and well. I spent the first few days monitoring the radio and obsessively checking the Rural Fire Service website. My parents, veterans of several fires in this area over the years, reassured me that it would never get to us. I checked for our Neighbourhood Safer Place, just in case. It is one block from our house. I was reassured.
So far, so good.
On Friday night, Fam Fibro headed out to the beach for some much-needed respite from the heat and the general business of living. We spent a pleasant hour crashing through waves trying to teach the boys to body surf (my technique needs more work than theirs, I'd point out), followed by fish and chips overlooking the bay. We left for home refreshed and relaxed.
On the way home, we passed a convoy of high-wheeling bush-bashing RFS fire trucks, packed with volunteers, a new shift on their way to keep the Dean's Gap fire, 30 minutes further south, contained.
I have friends who are RFS members. Up until now, they seem to have mostly been involved with open days, sausage sizzles and demonstrations at the Fibrotown Show.
When the chips are down, however, they are the ones in orange.
I am swimming.
It makes a person think.
Today I stood behind two serious young men at the supermarket checkout as they piled 40 kilograms of mushrooms, dozens of cartons of eggs, piles of packets of bacon and countless loaves of bread into their trolley. Their bright red shirts read Emergency Catering Services.
"They bought only the best stuff," said the checkout lady as they laboured out with their heaving trollies. "Premium steak. Helga's bread. No home brand at all."
"Good," I said, trying to balance my peaches on the back of the conveyor belt to ensure they went into the bag on top. "Those volunteers deserve the best."
Tonight, it rained. The first rain of the year, as Mr9 gleefully pointed out.
Relief all round.
You can find more information here on supporting the NSW Rural Fire Service, and more information here on how to volunteer.