Smoke gets in your eyes

Today I got up and checked the EPA air quality rating, which is normal now. Can we go outside or is the air too hazardous? Nope. Too hazardous today. Change all the plans you had that involved outdoor time. Change your mindset. Because it’s not about ‘what do you want to do today?’ it’s about ‘what is it safe to do today?’

I live a reasonable distance from the fires that are razing our country, so I can only imagine the horror of living near to, or within the path of, one of these insatiable monsters. I used to live in a country town that was surrounded by forest. It was stunning, but it terrified me in summer. When the thermostat reached 40 degrees I would pack up the kids and drive to my Dad’s house in the suburbs of Melbourne, just in case. Perhaps that sounds alarmist, but I’ve always been pretty cautious where my kids are involved.

Driving to a lunch date today, the sky wasn’t visible, as it hasn’t been for much of January. Just a grey haze, that resembles a sea mist, but instead of the refreshing, salty, sea air, we’re trying hard not to breathe in the putrid smoke.

And it’s just so sad.

So much about this summer has been sad. The fires, obviously, the loss of life, both human and wildlife, the choking air, the fact that there’s still a discussion about whether climate change is real. It all just seems so sad. And yet, we cannot allow ourselves to succumb to what feels like an unbearable sadness. We have to continue donating, creating, sharing and helping in any way we can, not only to aid the fire-affected communities, but also to give ourselves purpose in the face of such desolation.

As I drove home from my lunch date I started to think about what I’d be willing to give up to meaningfully change my life for the sake of our planet. I started a poem:

Would you park your car for good?

In the garage of forever

And ride your bike instead?

Would you cease the unceasing consumption?

Of things and clothes and stuff

And make do with what you’ve got?

Would you put the convenience of the shops

In the back pocket of your memory

And grow your own fruit and veg in the yard?

Would you allow the taste of eye fillet

To gently ebb away

As you embrace a vegan life?

Would you forgo the European vacation?

Because the carbon footprint is bearing down

And take the kids on the train to the high country?

Would you do these things in the face of

Those who cry

‘It won’t make any difference’?

Would you secretly wonder to yourself

Will it make any difference?

When your neighbour still waters their driveway.

Would you do all or some or none of these?

When push really came to shove

And the country was on fire?

I’ve given my own self something to think about today. How do I want to live my life? How do I contribute to the catastrophe that has been unfolding in recent years. In order to contemplate these questions I most definitely need a cup of tea. I’d be very interested to hear how the fires have been affecting your thoughts and life? Until tomorrow xx

Photo Credit: Yarra City Council

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