eastern part of Downunder are being watched closely in this house. Brother Cat and his partner now live in a small town in the foot of the Blue Mountains. They wanted to retire away from the hectic life in the city but not be too far from their children and grandchildren. It seems to be working well.
When they moved there one of the first things my brother did was join the Rural Fire Service. He's not fit or physically active but he thought he might have some skills they could use and he is fire conscious.
We spent most of our childhood in rural areas. We know about fires and the dangers they pose. Added to that he and his partner came very close to losing everything several years ago. A fire went through the national park less than 100m from their home at the time. It reached the boundary and it was the fire service which saved the street he was living in. He wants to give something back to them.
I don't know what he is doing at the moment. We won't hear until he is ready to tell us and I am not bombarding him with phone calls or text messages or emails. The Senior Cat is largely unaware of how serious the situation is in other areas of that state. He simply knows that there are "some fires over there". That they are, to put it simply, "catastrophic" is something he doesn't need to know.
It is not yet officially summer here. This state has already had some grass fires. We had a little bit of rain the other day but it was barely enough to wet the ground. There is far too much brittle dry undergrowth that needs to be cleared - cleared from private properties of people who like to think of it as "natural bushland" with no thought for the potential fire hazard.
I have reminded friends who live in the hills behind us that, should they have to leave at any time, our house is here as a refuge. And I am thankful that our multiple rainwater tanks are still almost full. We are going to need them over the summer.