Daily Archives: March 2, 2009

Before the storm

Like millions of other Victorians, today I received a text message from the police.  It read:

Extreme weather in Vic expected Mon night & Tues.  High wind & fire risk.  Listen to  Local ABC Radio for emergency updates. Do not reply to this msg. End.

It is a very still evening, just as it was before the Saturday of the bushfires a few weeks ago. It’s hard to believe that the wind is going to spring up at about midnight tonight, and blow all day tomorrow until it changes direction at about 5.00 p.m.  There are large bushfires still burning from three weeks ago which, although contained, could well jump containment lines and take off again- to say nothing of any new fires that might spring up.  I think of my parklands, the plantings along our watercourses and rivers – we are all so very, very dry.

A friend of mine at choir tonight lives in Hurstbridge, surrounded by bush, with only one road in and out.  “Keep safe” we say as she leaves, knowing that she could be plunged into a nightmare tomorrow- or maybe not.  Leave early; activate your bushfire plans we are warned; prepare for gale force winds we are advised.

We are uneasy.

You know it’s dry when…

This is not actually a complaint.  There has been so much loss and sadness with the bushfires, and so much hardship with the drought that south-eastern Australia has suffered over the past decade, that it would be churlish to complain about lack of water in the suburbs.  This is more to document how everyday life has changed in Melbourne,  where the rainfall total for February has been 3.0 mm against against an average of 47.6 mm, with our overall rainfall for 2009 a mere 3.9 mm.

So, you know it’s dry when…


Your agapanthus-es (agapanthi?) look sick


Your rose-bush is deadybones…


and your Japanese windflowers look decidedly worse for wear.


Instead of getting the lawnmower out, you cut the only bit of green grass with grass shears. The only reason this has grown is because it is under the weeping cherry…


which has been burnt by the hot weather and is lovingly watered by…


the water collected in a bucket in the shower, while waiting for the hot water to come through. You will note the careful arrangement of this photograph in a vain attempt to avoid revealing the shower scurf on the tiles, lest you think my housekeeping is slovenly.


Reading the water meter on a Sunday morning has become a bit of a ritual…


and the tension builds as the intricate computations show whether we have met the target of 155 litres per person per day.  We have!! with some to spare!!  Only 89 litres per day this week! Welcome home, daughter: your presence (and water entitlement)  makes my water consumption look respectable.

But is any of this water-dripping conservation really doing anything?  In a year or two will the government be happy for me to splosh around with their public/private desalination plant water to my heart’s content, with great expenditure of electricity, and my bank balance’s chagrin?


I have become truly pathetic, peeping through the blinds and skulking in what’s left of the shrubbery to catch and chastise the postman for running over my “lawn” with his motorbike, leaving trackmarks through the “grass”.

This is what I have come to.