52 Weeks 500 Words
This is how it began: Justine (not her real name) decided to write 500 words (or as near as), anything goes, per week for 52 weeks. She would then submit it for anonymous posting, via me, her friend. Perhaps a pattern will emerge from her words, but at this stage it’s more an experiment I have agreed to share in. I’ll attempt to draw conclusions at the end of this. Stay tuned if this resonates with you.
"I’m sure you’re aware I live at the southern tip of Africa (if you didn't, you do now!) and it is summer here in the southern hemisphere. Yes, technically, if you want to name months, it’s autumn, but trust me it’s still very much summer. It’s hot, dry and very windy and fires have erupted all over the region. Many mountain ranges have now burned to nothing, all vegetation and little creatures just gone. Fire fighters put up a heroic effort and have been well-lauded locally. A few were injured and one helicopter pilot lost his life. It has been a time of a thick pall of smoke over everything, the sun battling to get through. When it did, it was a strange orange-red globe we could stare directly at.
Two weeks ago I watched the mountains across the bay go up in flame and this week I saw the range across the valley from us go up as well. This is a truly sobering sight. It reveals the power of fire. It has also revealed to us the spirit of people, for every man and woman who went out to tame these blazes is a true hero, the majority of them volunteers.
A new fire can erupt at any moment and destroy more mountain vegetation and its wild inhabitants; we live in fear of it, we live in hope it won’t happen. Some are talking of deliberate arson, politically motivated, a complicated subject of which party is control of what region, or simply some folk hoping to keep jobs they otherwise wouldn't have. I can’t say whether any of that has truth, but I do know a lit cigarette tossed from a moving car into the over dry bush is able to start a blaze of note. A small barbecue fire, left unattended, can spread swiftly in the wind and cause havoc.
I’m asking that folk be careful, be vigilant and let us keep what is left. Heroism is one thing, but this is something that can be avoided and should be avoided. We live here; let us keep what we have, and nurture our environment.
And here’s to proper autumn arriving and the approach of winter! The moment it starts raining is the moment we may again breathe a sigh of relief. Those blackened moonscapes will have a chance again to sprout new growth and in time encourage the little creatures to return, and the dry landscape for the rest of us will transform into a green paradise once again. Be vigilant until then, please."