Shall I write about something else today other than the bushfires? I think I will. Even though a huge fire continues to burn close to home, it might be nice to think of something else for a while. So what shall I write about instead?
I look out the window as I try to think of a story. It’s actually raining a little. Water drips off the hedge in front of me. It’s a native tree hedge: melaleucas and hakeas. We planted a row of tiny little trees only a few centimetres in height, a couple or so years ago. Now they have grown so tall, they are higher than the house. Our hedge is magnificent. It is one of our few gardening successes.
I always get teased about my lack of gardening skills. You see, I have a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in botany. I’m kind of expected to be good at keeping plants alive. But I’m not. I suppose I just don’t put enough time and effort into it. The idea of getting my hands dirty and communing with nature appeals to me. But when it comes down to it, I’d much rather sit here and write a story about how useless I am in the garden, than get outside and lavish love on my plants.
I have never actually used my botany degree. Well, I guess the degree got me a job, but not with plants. I used to work at the university in the veterinary physiology department. I worked with animals not plants. After suffering from a major ‘6 month flu’, I was diagnosed as having a severe allergy to plant pollen. “I don’t advise you to ever work with plants,” said the doctor. Just as well I was working with pigs.
I can’t remember what we were investigating with those pigs. Investigating? Some people might call that ‘experimenting’. Experimenting with animals? Oh no! I think I’ve strayed into dangerous waters. I hope there’s no animal activists reading my blog. Not that we did anything terrible to those pigs. I sure they made my life more painful than I made theirs. Have you ever tried to catch a wriggly pig? Slippery creatures. Oh and the noise they make, as if you’re murdering them. They caused me much more distress than I caused them. I think they had nothing to complain about. They were much better off than the pig I ate with eggs for my breakfast.
But some people feel it’s their duty to liberate animals, even those that aren’t really in trouble. I suppose they might have thought my bacon pig needed rescuing. Of course they were much too late. Would it be awful to say he was delicious? I guess animal activists are vegetarian. They have a lot of zeal for their cause. I do admire that. But I just wish they were as interested in helping babies but that's another story.
I once spoke to an animal liberator. Or rather, he spoke to me. One morning when I was in my lab washing test tubes or something, not being cruel to animals, the phone rang.
“Tell Professor G there’s a bomb hidden in the building. Don’t contact the police.”
Of course we contacted the police. The building was evacuated. The police arrived, in a car with the siren blaring. I had my five minutes of fame as I was ushered into the police vehicle to be interviewed.
“A false American accent? Wrong pronunciation of the professor’s name? Animal activists! I doubt we’ll find a bomb. They just want some attention.”
Yes, no bomb was ever discovered. We just lost a morning’s work. The pigs didn’t need to be caught. And the activist got a bit of attention for his cause.
Attention? While I’ve been writing, I’ve had one eye and one ear on the bushfire updates. It’s been that way all week. Anyway, I just stopped writing for a moment to listen to the RFS media briefing. And my attention was caught. This is the latest news…
The weather tomorrow is predicted to be very bad. We are expecting the worst possible conditions. It will be very hot and dry and windy. Everyone near one of the out-of-control fires will be in danger. It could be a catastrophic day with huge losses… though everyone will be working hard to minimise damage.
In some ways it is hard to believe that will happen. We’ve had a bit of rain here today. Not a great deal but enough to wet the ground. It was like a sign of hope. I actually raced into town, abandoning the house for a couple of hours. It was a calculated risk. I wanted to buy a few things just in case we find ourselves fighting a fire in our own backyard tomorrow.
I have organised leather boots, long legged and long sleeved clothes, gloves and goggles for everyone. Yesterday the residents of a village on the north side of our fire had to extinguish spot fires as embers fell on their homes. We are prepared just in case we have to do the same.
So are we in any danger? If the winds come from the predicted direction, they will blow the fire straight towards us. Will it escape the containment lines? I hope not. Nobody knows really. But we have to be prepared.
This story seems to have turned into a bushfire story after all. I guess it’s hard to forget the fires when we are still on alert. At least I rambled on a bit about pigs before cheating and bringing you back to the topic uppermost in my mind.
I guess when it comes down to it, I’d rather an animal activist rang and announced there’s a bomb in my backyard because I eat bacon than receive a call saying, "Evacuate because the fire is approaching!"
Which is more likely to happen? Neither, I hope.
My apologies to any animal activists who are truly concerned for animals as well as babies, and don't mind me eating bacon. I guess you might not all be like the one who tried to liberate my pigs.