Happy Vegemites Outside

I stripped one apple tree of its squat green produce after a rat munched one fruit. It’s the best crop I’ve had from this tree in ten years. Thinned the Pink Lady’s crop next, as I’d neglected to earlier. Another couple of months and they’ll be sweet.

The peaches are all for the fruit bats this year – my payment for the pleasure I derive in their very existence. The cat and I watch from the front door or the other side of the living room glass. I sit in silence, in the dark, waiting for the flap, flap, flap, crash. The squabbling. Their silhouettes.

The other day I told a friend that Summer had remained Praying Mantis free, a sad state of affairs. Then barely 30 minutes later I encountered one inside, striding in slow motion across an art portfolio. I approached slowly, not wanting to frighten, and gently relocated it to a shrub of the same green hue beside the letterbox. There it immediately, meticulously cleaned each leg and its face, as if to say that removing my beastly human smell was top priority. Still cleaning when I returned with the camera.

And today my companion and I walked to the river. I was drawn by the rich scent of hemlock, fennel and eucalyptus, heavy in the humid air. As we navigated the winding path, my pal made a startled noise and pointed to a blue tongue lizard, motionless in the grass. We squatted to take a closer look. I’d only ever seen dead ones in this area, and live snakes, so I was thrilled. And then a few steps further was a pregnant lizard. Her colouring was more brown than the steely grey of her friend. We couldn’t recall whether they laid eggs or gave birth to live young, so made a mental note to look it up later. (Live young.)

Icing on the proverbial was finding a tiny mushroom of a species that’s on the Fungimap list. Day. Complete.

Bushfires (I’m safe)

I’ve chosen a water picture to counteract the effects of horrifying bushfire imagery.

It’s probably human nature to relate news to your own situation, your own history. That’s what I tell myself when I catch myself remembering Black Saturday (2009) while watching the news. And when I have any experiences related to towns mentioned, I think about those.

I’m safe. I keep telling myself that as I hyperventilate in this smoky air. I’m not prone to asthma. I am not in the path of any fire. I’m simply breathing the smoke and panicking for no reason. Hence the headphones playing slow music, the mug of calming herbal tea, and the words on this screen. I’m safe.

I can’t comprehend the size of these fires. They’re beyond anything I’ve ever seen before. My mind keeps going blank whenever I sit to write. Horrified by the loss of human and wildlife habitats, and the loss of life. Empathising with the terror.

I want to be useful. Authorities have stated that the most useful donations at this time are cash, rather than food or clothing. They no longer have staff available to organise warehouses of goods. It diverts people from actively fighting the fires. Money on the other hand is easier to manage. It also makes it possible for people to support local businesses.

So here are links to some fundraising organisations. There are many others.

Humans:

Australian Red Cross Disaster Recovery and Relief

NSW Rural Fire Service

Victorian Bushfire Appeal

Pets and wildlife:

RSPCA Victoria – again, donations of money, not goods, are needed.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service)

Click here to see what else you can do to help animals.

Heartfelt thanks to firefighters and support crew and wildlife carers and truckies. Shout out to Ash Barty and Courtney Barnett and Celeste Barber and everyone else who has donated and fundraised and generally boosted morale.

Feel free to add other links in the comments.