Today I woke after an unsatisfying 3 hours nap on the couch - didn't dare sleep in the bed, because then I would have slept through the alarm and missed a dental appointment I've been waiting for, for 2 months. So, I awake to find myself suffering the alarming but not in my case unique symptoms of smoke inhalation! THAT soon woke me up. The last time, and yes, there has been several times, that it was this bad was 6 years back when I woke to find my flat on fire!! So, quick check, nothing in the house burning, nothing in the street burning, smoke blanketing the town in every direction!
Oh shit! Bushfire! Massive one by the looks of this! Now, I lived through much of my childhood in a bushfire prone region and the last ten or so again have been in areas renowned for them. I'm even a volunteer "scribe", who takes notes of all the orders given by the Chief etc,, should anything need to be confirmed later on. So I am of course prepared for this exact state of affairs. The council and support groups are on about it all the time.
So of course, I hadn't a clue what to do first, pile up the cats in their cages load on the trolley and head for Peter's place (luckily only a few hundred meters downhill)? Was it too late for that and should I just lock us all in and hose down the house? What if the Chief needs me? Where's my mobile? What about my meds?
So I did the only sensible thing I could, which was ring Peter, my illiterate, intellectually limited sanest man I ever met and trusted his advice completely. DON'T PANIC! He said, the fire is 200 kms away!!! Even as an Australian bushie, that floored me - 200km? And yet here I was gasping in the lack of oxygen, reaching for my asthma meds, and visibility is down to a few metres.
I was lucky, in fact, to have that dental appointment - 50km south and on the coast - because the air was fairly clear there and I was in air-conditioned offices. All of that was 12 hours ago, and the air is clearing, seems the fire is kindly burning itself out, and the temperature has dropped a little.
So, what's it like in an Aussie summer? Exactly like that. Someone somewhere, every year, sometimes in several places at once, wakes up with smoke inhalation on their mind.
Tomorrow I'm calling the landlord about that bloody vegetation clogging up the drain pipes and adding an extra fire risk to the property! They were supposed to fix it 2 years ago. And while I'm at it, I might clear up a bit of the junk in the backyard and set the hoses up to be instantly available. Anyone hear the sound of horses bolting?