During the smoke haze some days ago I noticed the flies were in a frenzy as well. The sky had an eerie orange tinge. People seemed tense and walked faster than normal. It reminded me of the last days of shopping before Christmas. Perhaps the threat of fire and Christmas are related. Both are filled with a dread that something might not have been done or achieved. Did we really have enough food in the house for the upcoming festivities, and now, have I cleaned the guttering of dry leaves?
As we took our daily walk along the river with our Jack Russell Milo, I happened to choke on a fly which promptly got ingested. It reminded me of our life on the farm. Even though we left the farm three years ago, many memories persist. The best of them were the large house and the old settlers cottage from around the late 1880′ or so. We had a pool. I drove a ride-on mower and tractor to slash and keep combustible growth to a minimum.
Fire in summer was always on our minds. We had bought a petrol driven fire fighting pump and a wide arrangements of large diameter hoses with brass couplings. The first thing to go is often the supply of electricity, especially in farming communities when electricity poles catch alight. We had 40.000 litres of water from the pool at our disposal. We also prepared ourselves with buying a large generator that would give us enough power to run our sprinkler system and water taps around the farm and spare settler’s cottage. On most farms water is supplied from tanks or dams by electric pumps that get activated when a tap is turned on. We had a water license allowing us to pump 6 million litres from the Wollondilly river.
We were well prepared for bush-fire but still had anxious days when fires used to break out in the area. Fires could start by a farmer using a tractor to slash ,hit a stone, and a spark would ignite a fire in no time. Other fires were proven to be deliberately lit by bored youths. The mind boggles!
During the bushfire periods I always used to scan the sky for a hint of smoke and watched the local news. A previous bushfire in the sixties had destroyed most of the local community including a school and church.
One of the most amusing times were to be had on internet sites where the farming community used to chat with each other. Some of the responses were priceless.
A favourite subject to prop up during the heat was flies. How many did you eat today, was asked? Someone replied; I had at least twelve today, how about you?
In most French, Spanish, Greek movies, sooner or later, a scene props up whereby in the shade of a large oak, the family sits outside with a perfectly chosen out outdoor setting and a table decked out and laden with food and wine. People are convivial and wild gesturing adds to the excitement. Romantic and idyllic with perhaps a bee humming around the family about the worst threat to the event.
Did you notice on the TV news about the wild-fires, the flies buzzing around the news readers faces? I felt like getting the spray can out.
We can honestly say, those scenes would be hard to achieve here. We know, we tried many times. The flies made outdoor dining on a farm impossible. The only way to do it would be to wear black netting around one’s head and pop in the food by quickly lifting the netting, even so, flies would be opportunistic and get in. Unable to escape, yet another fly would get ingested.
That’s how it was.