Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The Seventh of February

Today is an important day on the Mouse calendar.

(Mum's birthday)

It's also a special milestone anniversary for a special friend.

(You know who you are, chicken)

These are nice things which roll around on the seventh of February each year.

Last night I was trying with great difficulty to fall asleep.  Have you ever had a night like that?  Your body is screaming out for rest, your eyes are glued shut, but still your mind won't calm down, your thoughts are racing around your head, and your so worried you won't sleep at all and that you'll be a zombie the next day.

Zombie days.  Not good for someone who can't drink coffee or utilise other various stimulants in order to trundle through the day.

After getting up, walking into a wall in the dark, turning on the light (argh, my eyes!), and reading the first novel on hand (World War 1, in the trenches = depressing), I was in a pretty dysfunctional state of mind.  I even sneezed so hard that my lip started to bleed.  Has THAT ever happened to you?

Then I had a little déjà vu.  (How cool is the word déjà vu?)

It wasn't the lip thing.  My lip has never started to bleed after a sneeze before in my life.
More like the problem of a sleepless night in February.  I déjà vu-ed back to February 2009.
To be precised, the week after the seventh of February 2009.
Also known in Victoria as Black Saturday.

If you live in Victoria I'm sure you know a lot about the bushfires on Black Saturday 2009, so I'm not going to write a whole lot about facts and figures.  The rest of you can look that up if your interested.

I remember Black Saturday because it was close.  Really close.
It was a day which brought fire, destruction, despair, desperation, and even death... really close.  When you live my nice and sheltered little Australian middle-class life you don't expect sudden and horrible death to come really close.

Sleepless nights in February 2009 were a symptom of fear.
Fear for friends near the fires.
Fear for all the local CFA volunteers risking their lives.
Fear that the wind would change again.
Fear that the nearby bush would go up in flames and burn through the suburbs.
Fear because no one really knew what was going on, or what to do, or where the fires were, or where they were going.

It's really hard to process, even now 3 years later.

Last night as I couldn't sleep, I remembered lying awake in 2009, listening to the whirl of my ceiling fan and smelling the smoke, wondering if the wind had changed and was blowing the fire our way.
I remembered the sound of ABC Emergency Radio in the lounge room, remember gathering around to listen to updated warnings.  Biting my nails as local suburbs were read out to be on high alert.  Freaking out when our own suburb was read out.  Trying to get onto the CFA website which kept crashing.
Redoing our fire plan over and over again as situations changed.

That was the one summer we almost moved from our little patch of semi-rural paradise on the fringes of Melbourne.

There are drawbacks to living near the bush, but hello, Victoria is one of the highest risk places for bushfires on earth.  We shouldn't be surprised, just prepared.  Now we know how terribly wrong things can go.

File:St.Andrews Kinglake Road April 2009.JPG
Photo source: Wikipedia

I'm more of an optimist than a pessimist (unless I'm running on no sleep - then the world is a dysfunctional place, people).  So I tend to look for the positives when something bad happens even though it annoys the stuffing out of lots of people (pessimists).

Summer 2009 faded into winter, the fires went out completely, Australia went absolutely nuts helping all the people who had lost everything they owned, the local community hereabouts went nuts supporting families who had lost people they loved.
And it rained.

It rained, it rained, it rained... all through summer 2010 (terrible for beach holidays, but hey).
Events like Black Saturday literally burn memories onto certain days of the year.  My déjà vu won't let me forget that.

The seventh of February is also Mum's birthday, and Nonna has just arrived (with Nonno) and she bears gifts of olives, tomato sauce, fried zuchinni flowers for dinner, fresh basil which survived the storm (hallelujah) and a birthday cake.  She does things properly.  (I go nuts for basil)

I did finally fall asleep last night, because after re-living fearful moments during bushfires, I was then thinking about my Mum.

My Mum is very cool.
She gets all my blog posts delivered to her inbox and then she gives me constructive criticism on my grammar (just kidding, sort of).
I inherited my love for English and writing from my Mum.
So really, without her, I wouldn't be tapping away, spilling my thoughts in a dangerously public arena.
I guess without her I wouldn't even exist right now.
I thank God for my Mum.

And with that, I fell asleep.

Thank you for reading. ;)

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