Fire is summer. White hot heat in the sky. Blazing, relentless and unforgiving Sun. Wilting the landscape under its powerful rays. Crisp and dry, brown and dead. During the hottest hours of the day, all seek the shade, relief under the parched leaves of the trees.
Out here, the heat is unforgiving, the Sun a blazing death. To be caught unprepared is a death sentence. Thirst, dehydration, fatality. A slow, intolerable and parched demise.
The heat of an Australian summer is intense, as is another aspect of it, bushfire. Every summer, the bush burns. Razed by fire, total destruction, an epic show from this mighty force of nature. A full-scale bushfire is an awe-inspiring and dreadful sight. Many lose their homes, their livelihoods, their lives. Wild animals are burnt to death, unable to escape the raging, flashing flames. Fire-fighters, courageous, brave these front lines, trying their hardest to reduce the impact. They turn fire against itself, back burning is surprisingly effective, to a point.
But even the destruction of wildfire has its benefits. Afterwards, the bush is cleansed, undergrowth burnt away, earth and trees charred and blackened. All is scorched, burnt a deathly black. But, before long, green shoots begin to break through the ash. Within weeks, new growth has flourished. Old, sparse growth becomes new shoots, thick and green. Gum trees disperse their seeds, fertilized by ash, life from death. An astonishing amount of wildlife survives, emerging from hiding. Fire has brought cleansing, renewal, fresh growth, new life.
Fire is also winter. A roaring log fire beats back the cold, drawing aside the darkness. The lights of home shining like a beacon on a cold, wet night. Here, fire is warmth, welcome, safety. It is a hot meal, a hot drink, a log fire. But here, as well, fire is two-sided. All to easily, ready to escape the hands that created it. Fire can warm us, make a house a home. It can just as easily burn that home to the ground. A moment of complacency, and all is lost.
Created with care and maintained with respect, fire is our ally. A campfire in the cold, or a bushfire destroying everything in its path. A welcoming home, a house reduced to ash. Fire is warmth, destruction, ash, heat, renewal, cleansing and comfort. Fire is a most powerful force, but used wisely, it gives warmth, hot food and water, a home that beckons us in from the cold.