psyche … without our knowledge.
How old was I? I don’t really know. It was in primary school and by the few things I do recall;
school … plus other vague details … I would have been about eight or nine.
that stage of my schooling.
… we are all lined up at the gate, resembling the usual after school picks up though it was mid-morning. This was not usual. Like myself, some of the children had picked up that this was
different, and they were crying. I knew crying was bad and means fear … I too began crying.
… the first parent arrives and says to the teacher, ‘this fire is dangerously close, we have the
Her fear was palpable. Though I understood very little about the meaning of a bushfire at
was told, ‘there’s no need to cry, everything is alright’ … but I knew better.
How often do we use these platitudes? Where do they come from? It was clear the adults
I have frequently reflected on how as adults, we have those ‘grownup’ conversations in the
Back to the story … I recall arriving home from school with my mother, siblings and several
snippets of conversations and distressed adults … into a now silent world.
I recall asking what was happening and why we were weren’t ‘going away from the fire’,
were frightened, so, I was frightened. My sister tried to comfort me, hardly her role.
I recall my mother saying, ‘I have the photo albums packed in the car, we can replace
photo albums first … such is life on farms close to the bush.
While these memories are snippets and still in my recall it is one other memory that
… though we did little to no workaround bushfires per se.
That memory is the smell of smoke.
No matter where I have traveled in the world, the smell smoke would always send up an
though it made no sense because at that moment I was perfectly safe.
Importantly it was not just any smoke it was the particular smell of smoke created from
At the smell of burning wood and leaves, I would automatically scan the skyline for the
While this olfactory reaction to the smell of smoke has for the most part abated, I now feel