Miranda’s Daily Blog: Day 74
The air was electric with energy. The forest was seething with heat. The wind was blowing full force, waves of hot air crashing against the tree sit. The trees around me seemed to be twisting and turning, succumbing to the relentless wind. I don’t think I have ever seen weather like this in these forests. I felt like I was holding my breath, waiting, waiting for something. The air had that expectant feeling about it. I kept my eyes scanning across the horizon, my nose alert for smells of smoke. Any fire that started in weather like this would be moving very quickly.
Yesterday and today I kept constantly checking the Tas fire service website for updates. I was looking on my computer yesterday afternoon and saw an emergency warning for Meadowbank, it had been reported only moments earlier. I turned away from the computer and looked over towards Mount Field. Smoke was billowing up into the sky. It was a light coloured smoke, creamy and almost could be mistaken for cloud. Except for the eerie glow, like the sun was setting on the other side of the mountain. The smoke began to fill the horizon.
Back on the computer I was quickly researching the best tactics when it comes to bush fires and being properly prepared. Some of it only served to make me feel more nervous, imagining what it would be like if a fire ripped through this valley. Especially with the pictures that accompany the articles, that stayed with me long after I’d stopped reading. Yet, it is vital to read and understand and be prepared. Particularly when you are living in the middle of forest, as I am. The most important thing is of course safety. And I wouldn’t hesitate to evacuate if I need to. (No action is worth more than life). It is sad, of course, to think about having to make that decision to leave and I think about all the people who have to leave their homes behind in times like this and not know if it will still be there when they get back. My thoughts go out to those people tonight.
These past two days my platform has swayed and moved, battered by the onslaught of the wind. Sometimes when walking around it is like being on a boat, and I have to hold onto the rope to keep my feet steady. Everything on my platform was trying desperately to escape and run free in the wind. I was obsessively checking everything was tied down properly. Yesterday I was having rice paper rolls for lunch. I had chopped up a selection of ingredients: cabbage, cucumber, carrot, garlic, green beans… and laid them all out ready to prepare my rolls. Suddenly a great gust of wind came, scattering my cabbage (the last of it’s kind up here, I might add). I quickly had to grab hold of everything, which is quite difficult when trying to control multiple small pieces of vegies! I wasn’t quiet quick enough for one of the sheets of rice paper though, which managed to slip away and sail to the ground. Wow, who would have thought eating lunch would be so hectic! In addition my cup also managed to become airborne. I desperately called out to the people on the ground to have a look for the pink plastic Barbie cup, which I seem to have become quiet fond of over these past months. Despite not being too impressed by the selection sent up for me at first, it is funny how I now feel like I would really miss the familiarity of that cup, or bowl or plate. So it was with much relief that I pulled up the runaway Barbie cup, once it was located by ground crew.
If it wasn’t for the worry about fires, I think I would enjoy the weather. In some ways I like the extremes, rather than those perfect days where the weather is so mild that you forget it even exists. I like it when the natural world is reminding you of its presence just a little, when you can’t ignore it – the heat or the cold or the wind. I especially like the windy weather, because it is so full of energy. The hot weather today was a stark contrast to some of the other days I have had up here, that is for sure. I guess I am lucky that these days my platform is more shaded. It’s actually incredible how in the past 2 and a half months that I have been up here, the position of the sun has changed so much. When I first came up in December the sun was moving across high in the sky. Which very little cover from the heat for me, being so close to the top of the tree there are not many branches above for shade. I hadn’t really noticed the sun changing its position so drastically until these past few hot days, when I realise that now I have no trouble keeping in the shade most of the day. The sun goes just slightly lower around the sky now and the branches that reach out to the side provide the perfect amount of shade. It still got mighty hot, though. It was hard to believe that only a few days ago I was wearing thermals and a beanie! To think that some nights the wind has whipped through cold as ice and caused me to huddle under my tarp wrapped in a sleeping bag and today it is thick with heat. That’s Tassie summer for you, though.
Despite the heat, a group of enthusiastic people came out to visit my patch of forest today. About 20 people walked in today to count the carbon in this area of forest, including my tree. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog to find out what this ‘carbon counting’ is all about and what people were up to with tape-measures at the bottom of my tree today!
That’s all for tonight. I hope everyone in the areas near to the fire are safe. And lets hope it dies down and doesn’t spread any further. I think I can smell the faint smell of rain on the air, so fingers crossed we’ll get some much needed rain tonight.