Monday, February 09, 2009

Fires, prayers and a quilt.

There are no chickens as props in today's quilt picture.

There is one slight chicken who took the picture..and made the quilt.

She is chicken about needles and skin being cut and blood...and once upon a time she was chicken about fire.....

When I was 13 I went off to a Youth beach bbq, stayed out late in the cold night air and scored myself a very nasty chest infection. That chest infection proved life changing. If I had been at School on 16th February, 1983 I would have been kept there for the night, unable to go home because the whole area I lived in was on fire. Instead, I was at home. I was on the roof of our house, filling gutters, I was helping mum get my brother and sister home from their more local primary School, I was packing my most treasured possessions in our car before Mum put it in a a sheltered cutting, and I was waiting, waiting for my Dad to get home...... Mum had called him and told him to leave the woolshed he was working in and come home, fire was heading for us. He got the message where he was 40 kms away, and it probably saved his life. He went running from the woolshed and hopped in his ute to head to us, got 4 kms to the end of his road and was confronted with a different fire front. While we were waiting for him to come to us, he was fighting his way home and saving many houses and elderly on his way. He is how I know that when you have no water pressure you just put an axe through the tank...people find that a hard concept!!

Of course, there were no mobile phones. Mum had rung the elderly gentlemen who we rented the shed and paddock off to get dad home. Several days later he was found near the woolshed with Dad's dog, he'd gone to save it and neither got back.

Mum didn't know why dad wasn't coming, but decided to get out, then looked for us and we were missing, I had caught a heap of my poultry and was releasing them onto the dam (some things don't change!) By the time she found us leaving was uncertain so we stayed. I remember every minute of that night, of Dad showing up and leaving again to join up with the fire crew...and of watching fire get to within a km of us on three sides of the house! I can still see it burning in the darkness so clearly.

The next day we went off to the burnt heart of the devastation to help and to see how all my extended family had fared. My Dad's family home was gone. The Singer sewing cabinet that I loved and hope one day to find another to "rescue" and have in it's place had gone unrescued on this occasion -though for some reason the rely's saved the fridge!

As we sifted through the wreckage we found the teapot that is today's quilt prop. It has a slight crack so holds some dried flowers from my 21st instead of tea, but it is a constant reminder to me of that day.

The main lesson it taught me was not to be a chicken about fires. Or perhaps even not be an ostrich might be more appropriate. Although we are in absolutely no danger from the melbourne ranges fire now, living out here and putting your head in the sand is foolish.We need plans, we need preparations and we need organisation. These preparations may not have been enough to save the people up in the dense bush with a firestorm at their doorstep but are still well worth the effort nonetheless. My husband knows that no matter what, i do not leave in a fire, so he always knows where i am.

My heart goes out to all the people who right now, do not know where their families are.

And I want to remind the Australian girls that it is only early Feb., the ground is tinder dry and we need to be organized in case another front like Saturday's comes.

Here is the quilt/blanket I made on Saturday while waiting, and checking, and waiting some more. It is denim, with a "love is all Around" charm pack. The back is pink polar fleece. I have decided it should be for those affected by the fires. I will donate it to someone in need when this fire is settled down, or perhaps if you like it you may want to make me an offer that i will add to our Red Cross donation.

Lorraine, and others have emailed about their desire to help. At this point the Australian Red Cross is a good place to start, in a few days when it has settled a little we may see if there are more tangible ways we quilters can offer assistance.

Keep all thse poor people in your prayers.



Margaret said...

Thank you for sharing an absolute memory. Today we are all a little quiet, as we sit and listen.

Calidore said...

No wonder you were getting so prepared the other day. After that experience I would be a total wreck. Thank you for sharing the memories. Lovely quilt Tracey - someone will treasure it very much.

Clare said...

Phew! Thanks for sharing what to you must still be a horrific memory.

Keep safe.

QuiltedSimple said...

Thanks for sharing that horrific memory - and I am SO GLAD you are safe for now. Love the quilt - it will be loved by whomever you donate it to!

anne bebbington said...

It's amazing how, when we see pictures on the tv of horrible events taking place elsewhere we just sit back, feel sympathy and thank our lucky stars it's not us. You've made a very valid point - it's never too late to have an action plan that the whole family know inside out in case of any emergency, fire, flood whatever. I so feel for all your compatriates - for those who have lost their homes and possessions, for those injured and for those who have perished and their families coping with the loss. Mother Nature can be incredibly cruel. God Bless you all Down Under

Quilts And Pieces said...

What a story. WOW is about all I can think of!

Chocolate Cat said...

What a life changing experience for you. Thank you for sharing it. I must admit even though we are in town I have had a bit of a wake up call and will become more prepared. Especially the fire in Bendigo proved that. I will phone you today, there is a family locally at the moment who kept their lives by being here (in tragic circumstances) but have lost everything and need assistance.

Owens Family Adventures said...

Oh Tracey, my heart just goes out to you guys over there. Will be saying prayers for everyone Down Under today.
Stay safe!!

Ruth's Place said...

I've been wondering how you were faring. It's been heartbreaking to see over here. I cry every time I see the news.

The quilt is wonderful.

loulee said...

Wow, what a story. I guess there will be more stories like that before this fire storm is over. Stay safe.

Libby said...

What a harrowing experience for you and your family. Wild fires are some of the scariest and devastating natural disasters - we are keeping you in our thoughts.

Sassenach said...

Bless your heart! What a life-altering experience.

You are so right -- a family must be prepared for many contingencies, even in a town. Too many of us get complacent.

I think that those of us that live on a farm learn those lessons quickly. Life comes at you fast, and the support network is much looser. We have to be able to rely on ourselves and help our neighbors.

The news that many of these fires are caused by arson is horrifying. Our thoughts are with you.

liz said...

Hi Tracey, your story is chilling. So glad you are not in danger.
The quilt is just beautiful, I'm sure whoever receives it will be very touched.
Take care, kind regards from Liz

Lissa Jane said...

I remember the 83 fires too, I was 13 as well.. we weren't in any danger, but I was very aware of what was happening down south... thank you for sharing your memories with us and reminding us of how horrible and quick a fire can be..
I do know that some Scquilters in Victoria are donating quilts directly (bypassing charity groups) to families in need, if you like I can put you in touch with some of them.. they are in Bendigo and Ovens and there are a few more people (who I trust btw)..

take care

stay safe!


Sweet P said...

What a horrible experience! I was happy to hear you are alright. The quilt you made is adorable! It makes me smile just looking at it.

Susan said...

What a story. You told it so well, and I had to laugh about the chickens and the dam. Did they survive? Your quilt is lovely and will bring comfort, I know. I saw that you are doing a project, too, and looks like it's going beyond your original one quilt. People are so nice to help! I donated some wonky star blocks for another project running down there in OZ, Tia's project. I think it is fabulous to see so many people around the world joining together to help. We need more of that (without more damage and death, please!).