It was a day or so before Christmas when hell visited upon our home and the forests around Hill Top. ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ and it was mother earth who had been scorned and who was scorched by the fires of hell.
All around the skies were black and red, no sun shone through the dense smoke that served as our canopy. Flames leapt and soared way above the tallest trees when we were forced to abandon our forest home a rush to seek safety several kilometres away in the local fire station.
Even here our lives were in great peril as so little water remained to protect the 20 or so locals who sought safety from Lucifer here, praying to be saved from being boiled or baked alive.
We were more than a little fortunate and a few days later we were allowed to view the remains of our forest – a forest now without leaves, a blackened armada of spears standing in mute death. Where once there had been a verdant forest, a canopy of gum leaves and a floor of brush, now the sun shone on a blackened earth and not a bird could be seen or heard.
Our home was miraculously saved by teams of firefighters who had stood as an army facing the flames with just their arms of hoses.
But just twenty metres or so away the garage and shed had been ripped apart, the steel and corrugated iron structures twisted and torn by the rampant fists of flames that respected nought but their own inferno.
Nothing flammable remained. Nothing withstood this wildfire.
Yet our prayers to quench the flames were eventually answered when after more than a month of the fury of fire the heavens opened and for days the rains fell, washing the cinders, smoke and dust away.
And now it is two months since those days of destruction. What do we see? A miracle has occurred. Emerging from tall blackened trunks and small brush are a myriad of fresh green shoots.
Life has returned where it seemed that nothing could ever live again.
From the ground new shoots appear everywhere as seeds that were burst by the flames are nurtured in the sandy soil that welcomed the life force from the rains. We wait now to hear the calls of the native birds and the rustle of animals re-populating this living cemetery.
Yes, life springs eternal from the inferno in the natural eucalypt forests of Australia.