We came down to Bridgetown today.
I am sure everyone in Australia is aware of the horrid bush fires that are raging in the South West of Western Australia. They have affected me deeply. The fires are raging in an area we know intimately. We drive past those towns once a week on our way to or from Bridgetown. We buy fish and chips at the local shops when trying to avoid road house food. We know Harvey and Waroona and Cookenup and Yarloop which, sadly, is no more.
We know the roads that are closed and the roads bordering the emergency zones. We drive on them regularly. We know the beach communities that have been cut off and the bridge that has collapsed.
I have two cousins in Waroona. One was told to leave his property as fire trucks arrived to defend his house. Maus’ brother, Trevor, has a friend in Cookenup, a tiny town that has been under threat for days.
I don’t know why but knowing these towns and streets and highways and family brings it home, all the more. How it could be anyone’s town and anyone’s house.
So today, when we had to drive to Bridgetown via Arthur River and Boyup Brook, we felt it was a very small price to pay. The two arterial highways south of Perth are closed and have been since the fires started. The only way south is to go south east and then directly west (a very long way around) which is what we and thousands of others did. We were amazed how many surf boards and cars pulling boats and caravans we saw on the inland road, a sight normally reserved for coastal roads. We were also amazed how smoothly the traffic flowed on a highway that is probably 10 times busier than normal. People, somehow, seemed more reserved and more considerate. The catastrophe, it appears, had humbled many a driver.
And what greeted us when we arrived? Cucumbers, of course, and lots of them – 34, in fact. The most ever for any one day. I have no idea what we are going to do with them. I am thinking of leaving them outside the Post Office. People leave boxes of lemons outside the Post Office so why not cucumbers? Cucumber distribution will be tomorrow’s challenge.