There's bushfires in Hobart, which is eerily reminiscent of Rise. The story takes place in February at the end of a long hot summer and bushfires are encroaching on the territory of the inner suburbs.
I remember one bad summer when the sky in Hobart's cbd was a hazy orange for days as fires burned the surrounding hills. I remember a night after I'd moved to Melbourne, waiting for news with my best friend Zoe as spotfires were burning on her parents' bush block and my parents were waiting anxiously to see if a separate fire (or maybe a long reaching arm of the same fire) would cross the main road and threaten their house. The crazy thing is that neither of them lived more than 15 minutes drive from the city centre - Hobart is like this, an evolving, organic city that curls into the bush. Standing on the main streets you can see bush, river, mountain, sky. The mountain seems safe, its flowing skirts pinned down by the city but in fact it is still largely wild - you can't really domesticate a mountain. It's wildness is expressed by weather - clouds overcome it, in winter (and Autumn and Spring and sometimes even Summer) snow falls on its peaks and as far down as town at least once in my lifetime, and in summer, fires scorch its sides, billowing smoke into the city. When the bushfires are burning you get a different sense of Hobart's relational spaces. You're reminded that quite separtate suburbs that are usually only accessible from each other by long linear roads passing through other suburbs, are actually joined by sparsely inhabited or unused hills and tracts of bush.
There are bushfires in Victoria too, but here, a similar distance from the city as my family home was, there's no sign of it except the force of the heat, the dusty wind. Bushfire weather, the highest of fire dangers. The protection we have in the city from the realities of fire is dangerous too, in a different way. Melburnians stubbornly want to water their gardens, I don't think we understand water restrictions in the same way that people who actually see the dryness understand them.
(Ah irony, as I was writing this Fred came in covered from head to foot in dripping paint and had to have a shower for the second time today - for the same reason. I decided to at least use the opportunity to wash Una and myself as well. I am not a daily showerer, having been well conditioned by a sister who always used up the hot water in the mornings before school, and also by my own habit of stealing more precious minutes of sleep before tumbling out of bed straight into my clothes and out the door.)
Rain is forecast over the weekend. Let's hope it brings some much needed relief. But it's going to be a long dry summer judging by the extraordinary weather we've already had.