We were told soon after we arrived that it would happen. The dams were running dry. Rivers too. We were in a drought with hot summer days burning in the forties, and skies that burned too.
Orange. Red. Purple twists. Skies in colours I’d never seen. The fires started, but they didn’t need to tell us something like that. Smoke came drifting miles, knocking on our back doors reminding us it was getting close.
Every eye watched out windows. Every breath tasted of smoke. Every day was a reminder.
Better watch out. Things change. Blink of an eye change. Yep, you’d better watch out. Things happen quickly.
Out the window on my way to the mountains, I saw it with my own eyes. The river that wasn’t. There was a line where the water had once been, drawn thick along the bank. Hot, red, bleeding dry clay, and trees bent in sorrow.
People around here had holidays on that river. Water skied down to the bend and then turned around and came back again. No one came now. The old hotel that housed families with running bare feet and sun kissed cheeks was all but gone. The sign hung crooked. It was missing two letters. It was missing a whole lot more.
Hurts seeing something like that. Hurts remembering how things once were. Burns something inside you. Leaves an imprint, an image cut deep.
We don’t water our gardens. Trees die. Plants too. We watch them, hoping for rain. Begging.
We drive dusty cars along dusty roads. It coats our skin, dries our eyes.
A cloud passes overhead. Every eye turns toward it, every hand scratches a head. Everything waits. Waits.
For the next rain.
This is a reflection on Linda’s first days in Australia during a time of fires and drought. Her last story was about her time on Lake Erie and the forever vastness of the Great Lakes. ‘Burning Skies’ is in contrast to that. New Zealand and its purity is next, time permitted! Learn more about Linda at her blog or by following her on twitter (@writerescape).
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