January, for the 2 folk, the dog and the tractor and many Australians, was the complete antithesis of this picture. January has been filled with some rather tense and heart wrenching moments. Just 3 hours away from our place in one direction and 1.5 hours in another, the stunning bushland and surrounding towns and farms suffered horrific bushfires. Precious animals in their millions perished, human lives were lost and dream lifestyles rendered to ash.
For us, at it’s worst, we were smothered in a thick acrid smoke as the fires burned out of control and the winds swept the smog into our home and lungs. It was hard to breathe and visibility was reduced to tens of meters, heightening the sense of impending emergency. High temperatures and winds meant any spark from any activity could put entire communities at risk. So for the day’s marked as ‘Catastrophic’ all we could do was steadily work through fire plans, clearing yards, watering everything, practicing SOPs, agreeing to fight or flee, what to take or what to leave. Lock down.
What happened on the East Coast of Australia was unprecedented but not unexpected – which only adds to the shock of what has occured. I think there is a whole generation of under 35s who have only now realised their political leaders are not to be trusted and will avoid accountability at all costs. I believe the magnitude of the fires is due to industrialised humans and our persistent misappropriation of resources resulting in global climate change. Fuelled by political and individual inaction in the pursuit of self interest and gain. My answer is to leave such creatures to eat their own young. We will continue regenerating the land, and support like minded folk; work harder to reduce our consumption, be it resources or possessions; and foster the concept of being a steward, not an owner of this remarkable planet.
We have signs of hope all around us too at the moment. Walking the paddocks and tree lots we discover trees thought lost to us have continued to hang on, even grow. Others have flowered for the first time, which initially we thought was due to maturity but now we wonder if the excessive smoke triggered the event. Even on a hazed out morning their beauty shines bright.
Kitchen garden pickings continue to be slim, for the humans anyway. Herbs continue to flourish but the rosemary is taking a hit as the house paddock sheep acquire a taste.The tomatoes, capcicums and corn are finally producing fruit, the herbs are powering along, the cucumbers are still pondering and the berries have outgrown their pots. Yet we have harvested barely a thing! The lesson this month is to start growing early by planting seeds undercover/inside where conditions are relatively stable. Then once the climate is right, strong, mature plants (or near as) are planted out to maximise the harvest season. This is not new, what took us so long (read 6 years)?
Seeds of 2 types of kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts are potted up and have sprouted. The bees have not been forgotten with seeds of English and French lavender (Lavendula sp), Flannel Flower (Actinotus helianthi), Salvia (Salvia sp), Hellebore (Helleborus), Honesty (Nigella damascena), Globe Thistle (Echinops ritro) and Sea Holly (Eryngium planum) also potted up. To do planting carrot, spinach and late summer herbs. Plant out wicking beds.
One thing about lock down is you have time on your hands to read. Last month I read the first in the trilogy by Rachel Cusk. Exceptionally good writing. Just can’t remember a thing about the books as I was not present. Standout book, and a remarkable young woman, is Hashtag Authentic by Sara Tasker. If you need to get your Instagram geek on she is your go to library.
David Attenborough, A Life on Our Planet (film)
“The way we humans live on earth is sending it into a decline… Human beings have overrun the world…Our planet is headed for disaster, we need to learn how to work with nature rather than against it”