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Mother Nature is a fickle thing - the sunrise this morning was amazing with
this great orange orb just hanging above the horizon, but then you stop to
think of the reason for the beauty is smoke from over 100 bushfires and over
80 homes and you think again.

Thousands of people who just two days ago were anticipating the greed and
gluttony of Christmas have been evacuated and stand in streets shivering
with only a blanket to keep them warm and now anticipating the hard road
ahead to put their lives back together. Others are fearing the worst will
strike mid-afternoon when the winds are predicted to be at their worst, and
already there is an organised gathering of small boats to evacuate some
communities on the coast which have been left isolated between firewall and
sea.  There is a firefront that stretches from the Blue Mountains in the
west of Sydney right through to the coast south of the city.

Even as I sit here the first early morning breezes are starting to stir the
leaves, the first smell of smoke creeps thru the windows and the first
outriders of smoke from active fires start to swirl again, white against the
thick brown haze that is just hanging. I remain in awe of the firefighters,
most of whom are volunteers who train through the winter so they can step up
when needed.

Bushfire is no stranger to Australians - it is a natural part of our
summer - but these firestorm conditions are rare and their effect
devastating.  What started yesterday as a tongue-in-cheek account of
Christmas DownUnder to help those of you on your own has turned into a time
of reflection and gratitude that things are not worse.  (But I did make an
early morning tour thru my house just to see if Santa had got confused and
made a double run, this year.  Alas! No more for BB for this year :>} Next
year I am going to hide some things so I can' 'discover' them on Boxing Day
and have the fun all over again!)

But we are a resilient bunch -'tis not the first time Christmas has been
turned on its head nor will it be the last - and we will still make sure we
have a front row seat in front of the tele to watch the start of the cricket
test and the Sydney-Hobart Yacht Race.  And such hot, dry gusty weather is
just an excuse, for those who actually need an excuse, to have another cold
beer!  You have to have SOMETHING to wash down the leftover ham.  I have
this theory that in revenge for killing so many pigs to provide ham and
pork, the Pig Fairy sprinkles them with magic so that when you cut a slice
off and then put it back in the fridge, that which has been taken off
regenerates twofold until you just give up and chuck it out.

News broadcasts show Christmas celebrations around the world and while it is
a sad time for so many families who have an empty seat at their table this
year, we should be happy that we are at least able to sit at the table!

Now, more mundane things like feeding the dog and the hubby and cleaning the
bathroom are calling so I had better scoot ...perhaps just one or two more
chapters of The Lord of the Rings  ....

Count your blessings ...

Barbara Braxton
Teacher Librarian
Palmerston District Primary School

T. 02 6205 7241
F. 02 6205 7242
E. barbara@austarmetro.com.au
W. http://www.palmdps.act.edu.au

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