A thick haze of smoke descended on Lismore and surrounding areas as bush fires raged across the region.
A thick haze of smoke descended on Lismore and surrounding areas as bush fires raged across the region. Marc Stapelberg

Smoke hangs over town

SMOKE hangs low over the town. There is a fine layer of sooty dust on everything.

The lawns are yellow and plants are parched.

A friend from the bush sends pictures of his burnt-out van.

Another cannot go back to her house but has been on night watch to make sure fires are kept at bay in her community.

Pyrophobia is fear of fires and just about everyone has it to some degree.

If not fear, then a healthy respect for this key element of nature.

There are five altogether, according the ancient alchemists and astrologers.

Earth, wind, water, fire and spirit (space).

In Lismore we know water and fire well as our town has a deep, long term relationship with them.

We watch the wind carefully and we look to clear space to try and contain the spread of fire.

We survived flood and now we face fire. It is happening and we know it can come again.

In these times people behave in different ways.

Some become distressed, some freak out, some step up and others, out of fear and pain, rage and blame.

Some pray for rain, raise money for the overcrowded koala hospital, pitch in with fodder for animals of all stripes, others perform rain dances or take water and food to the volunteers working to support the evacuees.

Helen Keller, author and activist and the first deaf and blind person to get an arts degree said "Alone, we can do so little; together we can do so much”.

That's what it comes down to in these tense times. We can dance or pray or feed animals together, the point is we all pitch in.

It's vital we maintain some kind of faith in the recovery of the world in these unpredictable times of looming climactic disasters.

It's clear, after the repeated and ongoing failure of governments to face up to harsh realities shaping our everyday existence such as fire and flood, that it's up to us.

So get out there and remember what St Francis of Assisi said: Start by doing what's necessary, then do what's possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible”