Slice of Life Story Challenge -Summer From Hell

Every day for the month of March I am participating in the Slice of Life Story Challenge and posting an event for each day. The idea comes from Stacey and Ruth from Two Writing Teachers They kindly provided the logo you see.

As the name implies, I will attempt to capture and document daily slices of life as they present over the coming month.

Here is the first entry:

Sunday morning found me indulging in a bit of hedge trimming with our new electric whiz bang trimmer. I could have been forgiven for imagining I was wielding a light sabre but that’s just a momentary regression into boy land. As I trimmed and sliced, I realized that it is now officially autumn in Australia and our summer from hell is over. Devastating bushfires have demonstrated the awesome brutality that fire can deliver. This was indeed a summer never to be forgotten. Two hundred and ten lives, in excess of two thousand homes and two towns have been lost to the monster flames that tore across my home state of Victoria in February. The February dragon came calling and left us stunned with the ferocity its brutal attack.

The community response to the largest natural disaster in our nation’s history has seen an outpouring of support and compassion that provides one with such re-assurance regarding the human spirit. The survivors have been overwhelmed and require government and community support that is sustained. It will need to last for years. I think of Hurricane Katrina and the lack of co-ordinated effort that initially was visited upon the victims of that hideous storm. We do not want to repeat that lamentable performance.

We should also learn the lessons that this hellfire brought down on our fellow citizens. A number of factors transpired to create this maelstrom. Years of drought made the landscape parched, and the forests tinder dry. The day the fires occurred was the hottest recorded day in our history, and the wind that fanned the flames was monstrous in its intensity. These factors conspired to create a conflagration beyond comprehension. –despite our history with summer fires.

There will now be a Royal Commission into these horrible events. We must learn from what has taken place. We cannot accept these terrible losses as mere circumstance. I suspect that stronger building codes will result. I also feel that managing the fuel that builds up in our forests will require more rigid monitoring and maintenance. Clearing trees and undergrowth close to family dwellings will also be discussed. Environmental considerations will need to find a balance with practicalities of living in fire prone areas. More effective evacuation plans and fire bunkers will no doubt be examined by those enlisted to undertake this important enquiry.

And so I have completed my hedge trimming, and bid farewell to a sad summer. It will live on in infamy as our community tests its resilience moving forward. Many will rebuild their homes, others will decide to move on to places they consider less vulnerable. Communities will cling to the spirit of renewal and hope. Bouncing back requires all of us to play a part. I decided the other day to go though my change jar and found I had over one hundred dollars in loose change. I took it to my favourite coffee hangout, 'Via Boffe' and donated to the Red Cross appeal to assist families in rebuilding their lives. Now that felt good… It was not an original idea. Someone on television suggested we all go through our coin collections and donate to the cause. So I took up the challenge. I will now turn my attention to creating a rain dance. Heaven knows, we need buckets of precip right now! Years of below average rainfall, have left us thirsting for soaking rains. The spectre of global warming is all too real.


  1. Alan:

    Did you know that one of the artists who donated the fabric brooches (Sophie Isobel of Sophie Isobel Designs) the proceeds from her brooches to the brush fires? She's Australian too!

    In case you want to check out her store to let others know about, go to

    On another note: I'm so glad you're going to be part of this Challenge!


  2. Oops... 10% of her proceeds go to the brushfires 'til March 11th.


  3. A very interesting idea. Not sure I can write that fast, though. I always seem to go back...

  4. I love this sentence: The February dragon came calling and left us stunned with the ferocity its brutal attack.

    My former students believed that sleeping with a spoon under ones pillow would ensure a hefty snow storm resulting in school cancellations. Perhaps something as simple as this will help you bring on the rain? :)

  5. Good to have you writing with us Alan. I hope this month offers you peace and opportunity to recover your sense of well being.
    All I have to complain about is a long winter that's been cold and snowy.
    Not really much to complain about,


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