Photo of large fig tree and steps, on smoky day. Overlaid with the words : Deadlines in the time of fires. and CPs web address

Deadlines, in the Time of Fires

It’s before dawn.

Today I finish a body of work to deliver on Saturday. It takes three months of painting to finish a project. This last three months in eastern Australia have been three months of bushfires changing our world. Smoky air has brought down half the town with respiratory illnesses. For those not at the fire front protecting property, the rest are there in spirit, worrying. There’s a layer of anxiety as thick as the ash and dust falling on our homes. Our new favourite app is “Fires near me”. Too many fires near me. It will take an extra three hours to drive to my client’s place. It’s taken an extra three weeks to complete the work.

But it’s still due on Saturday.
And I’ll still deliver it.

This is an aerial view of the firefront at Angourie and Yamba. One of the first big fires in our area.
This is how the map on "Fires near me" showed it.
All those purple lines on the map are roads closed because of fire. Some were closed for months.
On the Clarence the smoke was dreadful. This was one day near us in Lismore. The feature image above, is from the same day. It was only when Sydney started to suffer from the same sort of smoke pollution that we realised that the measurements they'd had at their fingertips, that told of a terrible time down there in "the big smoke" was barely as bad as we'd suffered. We had no polution filters here to measure what we were breathing in. They didn't believe we'd been living like this for months.
The road from Grafton to Glen was the only road open that trip - I met my deadline, by the way . The traffic was heavy, on a road not normally so. It was also smoky. Smoke from fires in inaccessable areas of the upper Clarence made this the clearest part of the journey.
Looking back I can't believe we just went on with all the things. This was the postcard about the canoe club's race. Those athletes breathed that smoke in, and competed.
The smoke was so thick, especially on the upper Clarence near Tabulam and Drake, that the BoM radar picked it up as a storm.
Such a lot of the highways and by-ways of our area are through heavily timbered country. This is on the New England Highway south of Tenterfield. It's one of the reasons why it was going to take me several hours more to do that trip. There were so many areas just burnt out. Gone. Social media was good about keeping us informed. But it also fed into the horror of the situation.

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