It was super hot, and a day spent indoors in the aircon monitoring the news for potential bushfire emergency.
Canberra recorded its hottest day on record at 43.6C, while everyone was on heightened alert because of the high fire danger.
I ventured out in the morning, before it got too hot, to drop off some cutlery at Vinnies. The cutlery we used at home was a mish-mash of different knives, forks and spoons collected over the years. It didn’t really bother me per se, but I decided recently that (now that I have remarried and started a new life) that I would get new crockery. Neil suggested new cutlery as well.
I had great fun rearranging the cutlery drawer so it is neat and streamlined. It feels good to be a bit organised. I’m not sure who would take the old cutlery, but with students arriving in Canberra soon and people losing their homes in the bushfires, I figure there will be someone who will put it to use. I hope.
And that’s kind of the dilemma with donating to op shops. They get given so much stuff already. As I dropped off my donation, I couldn’t help but notice the rows and rows of sacks of items that had been sorted and ready to be used in the stores. It was some operation.
Then I went to the local supermarket to pick up a few things. All the bottled water had gone, and most of the soft drink as well. There wasn’t much bread on the shelves.
People have been buying up big on bottled water and snack food to donate to the RFS and evacuees. I’m in two minds about this. On the one hand, people really need these things and it is a desperate situation for many people. These items are ideal to distribute in those circumstances because of how they are packaged. But then, all that plastic and waste! If the drought is caused by climate change, then it follows we need to change our patterns of consumption to help stem the damage. And this means choosing more sustainable options (e.g. like saying no to plastic water bottles). Right now, I understand the focus is on helping those doing it tough. Longer-term, things need to change.
I had my boys from lunchtime onwards, and I spent time reassuring them (when they weren’t on their computer games) while monitoring the fire situation and seeing if there were new ways to help (or not).
If I had to sum up how I feel at the moment, I think it would be a sense of feeling helpless and unsure of what to do to help. I’m sitting at home, in my comfortable apartment, with my kids and all I can really do (apart from donating money) is to compile links and pass on information about how to help. And then I wonder if really these things are helping at all.
Even my offer to host evacuees in our apartment hasn’t had any interest. The offer is there but as yet no takers. Another friend contacted me asking how she could help, and if she could give space to evacuees. I pointed her in the direction of the bushfire emergency accommodation Facebook Group, but she hasn’t had any offers of people to stay yet, either.
I had an email exchange with a friend who retired to the South Coast, and who has had to leave her home due to the fire danger. She’s been sending me links of charities and initiatives that are helping. But she, too, is at a bit of a loss about what to do. “We don’t know what to do either. Nobody really does…. It’s all new territory, an extraordinary and quite unprecedented event. But, as you know, it’s happening across Australia,” she said.
Perhaps it is therefore unsurprising that Celeste Barber’s donation drive is doing so well. People want desperately to help, and there is a sense of helplessness and wanting and needing direction. She’s an authentic person who is telling it how it is for her and her family at a time when there is a lack of empathetic leadership. It resonates with people and is a rallying call for people who want to be able to share the truth of how it feels for them.
My boys and I are safe. We stayed up late watching TV, in part to distract them. Thick smoke rolled into Canberra last night, and even in our well-insulated apartment, it is seeping inside. The thick, acrid smoke burns the back of my throat. This morning, it has triggered a migraine. But so far, we are the lucky ones.
How are you coping with the stress of the ongoing bushfire crises? Hoping you are all safe and well.