kids

'We may have to flee our home at any moment. But today, amongst the chaos, we baked cookies.'

For further information on how you can help those affected by the bushfires, read our post here.

I’m spending today checking for updates on the children’s grandparents. They live 380km away in the Southern Highlands. Last we heard they had both of their roads out of town cut off and a bushfire from the south roaring towards them at terrifying speed.

My husband is at work and I’m doing this secretly because I don’t want the children to worry. We were there one week ago, and we were so very lucky not to get caught up in any fires while away. There is a field between them and the fire so they should be okay…

So many Australians are not okay and lives and properties have already been lost. My heart breaks for these people and their families, and those currently living in fear. The hard, lifesaving work from our RFS crews are simply astounding. Their efforts will be remembered for several lifetimes. 

We are safe here for now, but this can change in an instant. So we have bags packed, documents and photos put away safely, water ready to grab and the route to our evacuation centre memorised.

Image supplied
"We are safe here for now, but this can change in an instant." Image: Supplied.

The car is full of petrol and I have spent our grocery budget for the fortnight on non-perishable foods. I withdrew the rest in cash, just in case cash is what we need. I feel slightly crazy, alarmist even, but I don’t ever want to wish I had been more prepared. 

There’s no blue sky anymore, just smoke. The air quality in our little pocket of the country is often the worst in NSW. The children haven’t played outside for over a month. Even the youngest can take buckets of water from her bath and the shower out to the garden. We’re no longer really trying to save grass, plants or trees. We’re just preventing our yard turning into half an acre of tinder. 

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Our city is set to run out of water in a few short months, although it might be earlier if our precious water is needed for firefighting efforts. This is my main fear - not the fire, although that’s plenty scary enough. It’s the uncertainty of what this year will bring.

What will happen if it doesn’t rain? What happens when our dam is empty? We’re already at level 5 water restrictions, where exactly do we go from here? The bushfire emergency isn’t shocking to residents of country towns. New South Wales has been drying out steadily for three years now.

Despite it all, this week we’re trying to balance the horror of our drought, bushfire readiness, and the holidays. I only have a few more days off with my daughters before I’m back to work. I’ve promised that tomorrow we’ll go see Frozen 2. On Wednesday we will have friends over to join in the LEGO city that has overtaken our table and is soon to engulf my laptop.

Laptop
Image: Supplied.

And this afternoon, amongst the chaos, uncertainty and fear, we baked cookies.

My five-year-old was delighted to find butter out softening next to a packet of chocolate chips and so very excited to realise that today for the first time she can see into the mixer without standing on a chair.

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She added all of the ingredients and spilled half a cup of flour on the floor. She carefully taste-tested all of the chocolate chips, then rolled handfuls of cookie dough and squashed it with her little hands onto the baking tray.

Cookies
Image: Supplied.

While they were in the oven she called Daddy to excitedly tell him about it and promised to save him some. She ate three for afternoon tea. She only gave her sister two. All just a distraction. A beautiful, happy distraction.

She needed this afternoon of normalcy, we all did. We are as prepared as we’re going to get, and now we just wait. Keeping an eye on the RFS updates but trying not to watch too much news so we don’t add to the children’s anxiety.

After dinner, we’ll start a jigsaw puzzle, a school holiday tradition. While writing this I’m pretending that the LEGO T-rex is eating my screen. The peals of hysterical laughter are good for the soul.

Tomorrow there might be a new threat of fire, and this time next year our lives will probably look very, very different to what they do now. But tonight there is fun, laughter and a hungry Tyrannosaurus. I’m closing my laptop now to relish every second of it.

If you want to help those affected by bushfires, you can donate funds to the organisations below:

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