Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Snow, Floods,Fires, What Next?
What a strange start to 2009 we are having. Right now I'm writing up my blog as large snow flakes drift down from the skies like white confetti. When I was little, I was told that somewhere up in the heavens an old lady was plucking a goose. What a load of old cobblers kids were told in my day. Parents would never get away with it these days. Kids are far too smart to be fooled by daft stories like that.
But back to the present century. Only 6 weeks into 2009 and what have we got? The most severe winter conditions in the UK for 20 years, (or 10, or 50 depending on what newspaper you're reading), horrendous fires in Australia, and here, three weeks ago, the most violent winds for years, the effects of which we are still discovering as we drive around, with hardly a wood without fallen trees somewhere in it, either flat on the ground or leaning at crazy angles on neighboring trees. Strangely most of our old houses still have their roofs on; they must be a lot tougher than they look. Like their inhabitants I guess.
And today, the snow is not only settling but piling up ...well it has snowed all day. The lights are flickering ominously as well, and although The Captain has bought new wicks for our emergency oil lamps, he hasn't tracked down the oil for them yet. When the electricity went off in the storms, like the foolish virgins that we were, our lamps hadn't been maintained properly, so we were caught out, and had to resort to candles.
I can't begin to imagine the full horror of the bush fires in Victoria. My own experience of wildfire was on a minute scale compared to the Australian disaster, and that was scary enough.
We were living just outside Carcassonne in the heat wave summer of 2003, and we had become accustomed to the daily patrols of the Canadair fire fighting planes droning over, and even when we noticed a puff of smoke on the other side of the hill we weren't unduly worried. We still didn’t worry too much when twenty or so fire engines were seen up on the main road, and smuts began to flutter down in the courtyard. We maintained our British sang-froid and took tea on the terrace, as usual, and watched the planes ‘water- bombing’ the woods on the other side of the hill. The Captain, who takes on the characteristics of a ten year-old when confronted by planes doing exciting things (well, things he considers exciting, anyway) enjoyed it all immensely. It wasn’t until I went into the kitchen at about ten o’clock for ice for my bedtime drink (well, it was stiflingly hot so a good excuse for a G&T) that I noticed the sky had turned red and the hilltop was flickering with flames. Simultaneously two battle-weary pompiers appeared at the front gate and announced we were to evacuate the cottage. Then it got scary. We grabbed our passports, the dog and prayed the cats, out on their evening hunt would be alright.
An hour later the wind changed direction and our little house and the cats were saved.
It was alarming at the time, but nothing to what the inhabitants of Victoria have had to deal with.
I wonder what the elements have in store for us all this year. And what the global warming-in-denial lobby will have to say about it.