the woman told me. I can remember looking at a photograph of her "garden". This was last summer and I am still shocked by it. I dread to think what it looks like now.
She lives in the Adelaide Hills and, like some other residents up there, she likes to believe she is living in a natural bushland setting.
She is not. She is living in almost-suburbia. She has neighbours within fifty metres on one side and about one hundred on the other. There are more houses opposite and a small shopping centre about a kilometre away.
Her garden is not a garden at all. It is just a mess of trees and undergrowth. Nothing has ever been done to it.
It is an extreme example of the way some people in the hills area believe they can live. Many of them have trees, usually gum trees, close to their houses. They do not clear the undergrowth. Gutters do not get cleared. Stray branches which fall do not get removed.
The end result harbours unwanted snakes and other vermin. It is also, even more seriously, a fire hazard.
When this is pointed out some people do make an effort to clear their properties of the detritus. Some do it well. Others do not do it well enough. Some do not do it at all. They leave it because, despite the potential hazards, they see it as natural. They do not like to be told they cannot have it this way.
We have friends who live several houses away from the woman who showed me the photograph. The area around the house is cleared. The gutters are clean. They have a dam for water and a pump. The whole area is set up with a sprinkler system. It is the best they can do. The fire service will send people to them to see what should be done.
It is still not going to be enough if a major fire occurs because their neighbours have not done the right thing.
We have massive amounts of undergrowth in the hills this year because it has been a wet winter. It will not take long for it to dry out and become a major fire hazard. Yesterday was a wild and windy day, the worst we have had in some years. If it had been this wild and windy in summer and someone had lit a match or an overhead power line had sparked....
I dread to think - and it is not natural.