It has rained every day this week and the next few days are looking no better. There has been no opportunity to go anywhere except to the Op Shop and yesterday out for a meal with friends. As I’m having trouble thinking about what to write about I thought it would be interesting to go back to June 2013 and see what I was writing about back then. What do you know? I was writing about the weather. I had just started joining in with the Daily Prompt and this one was about rain. It is interesting to look back considering that since I wrote this we’ve had drought conditions again and the terrible bushfires last summer.
Singing In The Rain
When I think of these words I immediately think of the famous scene in the movie of the same name where Gene Kelly dances in the pouring rain. It’s a catchy song but I have to say that on the few occasions I’ve been caught in a rainstorm and soaked to the skin I did not feel in the least like singing and dancing. Squelching along with sodden shoes and wet clothes sticking to you is no fun, especially if you know you have an hour long bus ride home to endure before you can get out of them. I can remember two or three occasions when it has happened to me and most of them seem to involve rained out sporting events.
However, I do enjoy listening to the rain when I’m snug and cosy at home. It feels good to be in a warm room or a warm bed listening to the rain thundering on the galvanised iron roof.
“It’s really coming down out there.” David and I used to say to each other.
“I’m glad we’re not out in it.”
Of course, there is more than just being grateful for our good fortune in having a roof over our heads. After a hot dry summer, it is wonderful to see how everything turns green again after a good rain.
Many people think that it rains all the time in Tasmania and parts of it are quite wet at times, but Hobart itself is the second driest capital city in Australia. Adelaide, where we used to live, is the driest.
There were drought conditions here for some years in the mid-2000s and the Midlands and east coast of Tasmania really suffered. Farmers had to put stock down because there was no feed. Lake Dulverton at Oatlands dried up completely. I was told that years ago they used to have sailing and even speed boat racing on Lake Dulverton, I have walked around the lake and seen the remains of moorings. There was even a sailing club and the building is still there. That year the lake itself reminded me of the cover of the Midnight Oil album “Red Sails In The Sunset” which showed Sydney Harbour with no water.
It would have made a great dirt bike track at that time.
Finally, there came a wet winter, it rained and rained. Gradually the lake filled and finally, in spring of 2009 it was full for the first time in many years. I remember visiting the lake around this time and seeing people rowing and fishing on the lake. That did make me feel like singing.
So even though I curse it when I get caught in it or when David used to spatter the washing with mud with his car or I fell over in the garden I really do love the rain because it brings new life.
Do you have pictures in your mind? Do you have places, sounds, smells, people that live in your mind? Mental pictures of your life?
For me, the answer is yes. I try to capture the special places and special moments in my life with my camera. We all have those holiday photos, fun family photos and pet pictures that remind us of good times. Of course, you can’t capture everything in a photo. Sometimes the picture is like a marker and looking at it prompts memories of when and where it was taken.
I don’t really like having my photo taken that much. I didn’t even when I was much younger and looked better than I do now. I’ll never join the selfie craze but there have been times when I’ve wanted one for the album.
These were three that I asked David to take of me on our big overseas trip in 1990. Two are with landmarks, the other because it was a day, a time and a place that I wanted to remember, one of the best days of the holiday even though all we did was go for a walk. We were in Scotland amongst the lochs and the mountains and it was somewhere I had always wanted to go.
Me in Scarborough, England 1990
On the slopes of Ben Nevis pretending to be a mountain climber.
This picture, which I took while visiting the Great Wall of China doesn’t look like much but when I look at it I remember the walk I took. I had got separated from our tour group and walked on much further than everyone else until I had got away from the crowds. This picture brings that memory alive for me again, I remember the still air, melting snow on the steps as I climbed, some distant booming sounds. For me, that short walk is my favourite memory of China.
There are some things you can’t take pictures of though, and things that even if you photograph them you can’t do them justice. Sometimes it is better to put the camera or the phone down and just take in the scene. Photograph it with your eyes so you will never forget. We visited Wellington, New Zealand on a beautiful summer Sunday when we cruised in 2016. I took a lot of photos trying to capture the essence of that day and although the pictures don’t quite do that I do remember the sunshine, the icecreams, the street pianos and the exuberant donuts the pilot’s boat did to wish us farewell.
The water was such a beautiful colour that day. Wellington , NZ 2016
Here is the other Street Piano.
Wellington Cable Car in the upper terminus station.
We loved this quirky structure.
A lot of my memories are in picture form, I see the much younger me running along a platform at Adelaide Station, so anxious to see an approaching steam locomotive, or Naomi and I seeing a favourite band in concert. I see David and me in the car playing “Road to Nowhere” at the start of a road trip, the faces of people who I used to work with on the railways and our past dogs chasing balls on the beach.
Then there are those mental pictures that just come into your head. Naomi and I get this quite a lot. Our sense of humour can be quirky and sometimes we see funny pictures in our minds of ordinary things. For example, once a workmate was talking about his trip to the USA and that he had been to Disneyland. Naomi said that she had to try very hard not to laugh. I knew it was because she was seeing this rather serious man looking something like this.
When I was a child I didn’t mind the hot Australian summer so much. Nobody I knew had air conditioning, we kept cool with fans, which mostly just blew hot air over us. At school, if the temperature rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit we were allowed to go home early as the school wasn’t air conditioned either. I remember how we looked forward to those days, getting out of school early was a treat. As the temperature climbed in the afternoons our teachers would schedule easier lessons. Sometimes several classes would be herded into the hall to watch films. They were educational but sometimes there might be a funny one as well.
In Grade 6, the class teacher was Mr. Scott. He was quite a young man, probably not long out of Teacher’s College and he was very good at art. He used to draw amazing murals on the classroom blackboard. In fact, other teachers would often ask Mr. Scott to come and draw something on their blackboards, that’s how good he was.
On really hot days when the temperature was in the nineties and we had not yet been told we could go home Mr. Scott would try to find ways to keep our class of forty or so kids busy. Sometimes he would read poetry to us, at other times he would send a kid to get the school record player and play some music. This was in the days before DVD’s and even before VCR’s. He’d then let us get out the art materials and paint. He’d encourage us to think about cool things and it mostly seemed to work.
Once we were allowed to go it would be a hot walk home but there would be a cold drink or maybe even an iced lolly waiting. Our house in Elizabeth had a concrete floor in the laundry and two old cement wash troughs. Naomi and I often played in there on hot days as it seemed cooler than the rest of the house.
Now I’m older I find that I don’t deal with the heat all that well and rather than being fascinated by the idea of the temperature reaching a century I dislike the really hot days. I’m glad that I don’t have to sit in a hot classroom anymore but those afternoons were fun; sometimes I wonder whatever happened to Mr. Scott.
It’s been about six weeks since the bushfires that threaten the Huon Valley began. Although we are no longer at crisis point the fires are still burning and with a hot weekend ahead there are statewide fire bans and continued warnings to be mindful that the situation could change rapidly.
Things are getting back to normal in the valley, but normal now includes the daily parade of fire vehicles that I see heading south as I wait for my ride to the Op Shop in the mornings. We’ve become used to seeing the helicopters that fly overhead. They are taking infrared pictures to check for hotspots. We also see the waterbombing helicopters and aircraft flying over the valley every day. The helicopters have a landing site near the school so we hear them coming and going from the shop. Yesterday we heard a few explosions as fallen trees which were too dangerous to remove manually were blown up.
The ground crews work hard digging out the hotspots with machinery or by hand. The fires generated such heat that the soil is still hot in the places that were burned. This is a good reminder of why it’s important to be sure a campfire or rubbish fire is really out. I have enlarged a bit of the TFS webpage information as I thought that it might be of interest to see what they do. The PFS is the Parks and Wildlife Service and the STT is Sustainable Timbers Tasmania, the forestry service they have their own firefighting units.
Firefighters continue to extinguish numerous active fire edges today utilising vehicle based teams, remote area teams inserted by helicopters, and walk-in teams. Crews are supported by aircraft providing targeted water drops to mop up hot areas.
TFS, PWS, STT and supporting agencies will aim to contain and extinguish the fires with the highest priority being Riveaux Road to limit impacts on private property, community and commercial assets, community safety and natural, cultural & heritage values, especially the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Tasmanians are being asked to reconsider using fire as the state moves into several days of bad fire weather. A total fire ban has been declared for all southern municipalities on Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd March.
Fire agencies and communities have already experienced a very trying bushfire season, and while it may seem that conditions have abated and life is back to normal, the community needs to be aware that we are still battling serious bushfires.
Residents are reminded to remain vigilant and continue to monitor the situation as the current situation may change as warmer weather is forecast.
Areas impacted by fire pose a number of risks and hazards to the public and fire crews. There are still a number of roads closed, and the public must adhere to road closure signage and refrain from entering these areas. Roads impacted by fire remain a significant risk of fallen trees or trees that have potential to fall without notice. Roads may be damaged, have damage to local bridges, and normal roadside warning signs damaged or destroyed. Please slow down and drive to the conditions as emergency service vehicles continue to use these roads.
Apart from the still present risk of fires, our focus is now on recovery. A government services hub has been set up locally to advise people who have lost income due to the fires or have damaged property. People are trying to get back into their normal routines but more than one person I have spoken with has said that it is difficult to do that while the fires are still burning.
Even animals are affected. I see posts on Facebook regarding lost and found pets and for the first few days that I was back at the Op Shop Cindy would howl when I left and I’d hear her howling when I arrived home. Thankfully she has settled down now and instead of being upset, she runs to greet me with her ball when I get home.
Several events are being set up to promote local businesses. January and February are usually our best months for tourism and many operators rely on that money to get through the quieter winter months. A key attraction, The Tahune Airwalk will be out of action for some months while facilities are repaired or replaced.
The other thing that everyone locally is keen to do is to thank the fire service employees and volunteers for the amazing job they have done and are still doing. Fundraisers are being arranged to support the various brigades with new equipment. The firefighters themselves are not allowed to accept money from the public but at least we can let them know how grateful we are for what they do and that they are all heroes.
The fires are still burning. We had three cooler days which allowed the firefighters to get some back burning done but on Sunday I saw that Geeveston was once again on emergency alert. I spent an anxious afternoon and evening listening to the radio and checking Facebook posts as the fire came close to the southern end of Geeveston and threatened communities further south. Sadly several houses were lost that day but thankfully nobody was killed or injured. It has been over three weeks now that these fires in the Huon Valley and other parts of Tasmania have been burning.
I was in Huonville to apply for an emergency assistance grant which the government had made available to people who had been forced to leave their homes because of the fires or who had been unable to work because their place of work was in the fire zone.
The local Scout and Guide Hall was being used to process claims. I arrived at about 2:20pm to find a long, long, line zigzagging across the room. It took me a full two hours to be processed and paid. It was quite a weird experience and made me think about people who have been permanently displaced from their homes and have to deal with this sort of situation all the time.
The government workers running the operation were doing a great job though, they had a team of maybe a dozen workers processing information before sending us off with our paperwork to join another line to collect prepaid debit cards. Everyone was on the whole, patient and good-natured even though it was a warm afternoon. Security staff walked around distributing bottles of water. The staff was helpful and friendly still smiling after a full day of filling out forms.
Outside the building, Naomi was patiently waiting for me to finish. It turned out that one of the security people was someone she knew from Oatlands, that stuff happens all the time in Tasmania. She talked to people coming and going, patted dogs and talked to a little kid who claimed to be lost. He wasn’t, his dad was nearby and he was just looking for some attention I think.
About an hour after I arrived the doors were closed and people arriving were told that they would have to come back tomorrow as it would take till after 6pm to process the people already there. Naomi said that most people took this news quite well although one man became quite angry about it. The financial assistance centre was set up last week and has been open every day. I had not been able to get there sooner as I am staying some distance away which is why Naomi offered to take me.
After that, we drove to my house. It was a strange feeling driving into a bushfire zone. The smoke haze was not too bad and we had good visibility but the whole area smelled of burnt wood.
I knew that my house had not been in the fire zone as a friend had driven past it the other day but it was a huge relief to find everything inside just as I left it. Even most of my plants were still surviving.
Once we had watered the plants, checked that lights and power were still working and I had grabbed a few things I wanted we left. I don’t plan to return home just yet. I want to but the fires are still acting erratically and if I go back now and there is another emergency I would have to find someone to get me out. It’s just too stressful so I will wait until things are a bit safer.
However, it was good to see my home again and I hope it won’t be too long before I can go back.