Isn’t it fun that while we’re panting with the heat up here in the northern hemisphere, children in the southern one just had their winter break? Oh, and did you know that Australian schools have four instead of two terms? Well, you probably do if you are Australian, but I didn’t until I googled it. Fascinating. This is what I call a strong start to the blog.
The other day, as I sat dying of heat, I wondered why the word hot (and to an extent heat) have come to mean some rather complimentary things such as attractive. I could not come with an explanation because I only know two people who enjoy the heat and even their enjoyment is not without limit.
Speaking of enjoyment, it really is impressive. Big C, my dear husband, tries to spend two hours daily sunbathing, on the balcony. He says it helps him relax and, what amazes me the most, recover from anything that might have exhausted him before. The exhausting endeavours range from fitting three days’ work as newspaper designer in a single one to clearing the trees that the power utility felled to free some cables. And then just left them there, on our black road with a parting “Some wood for the winter!” Of course, this happened two days after the wood we had ordered for the winter arrived. These things always do.
Anyway, my point was that while C. relaxes and rests in the sun I’d be half dead if I spent two hours in the heat, even covered with a thick layer of SPF 50 sunscreen. What energises my Duracell bunny exhausts me better than eight hours of news. Which just goes to show how wonderfully different — and weird, sorry but this is weird — we all are. And how one person’s heaven is another person’s hell. It’s true for more than just people’s sunbathing habits, if you think about it.
The real superheroes
I must have mentioned that these past few weeks I’ve had the pleasure of having not just one but two nine-year-olds in and around the house since Little C is not the only kid spending her summer in the country. I’ve had thoughts of gratefulness to the universe of giving her a partner in game so I could not worry about her being lonely. Also, how lovely it was when their third friend also came on the occasional weekend. Ah, children, bless them. And then there were four.
C’s friend, N, had a birthday party yesterday. There were three guests at it — the regular three plus a new boy from the city. And about two hours into the party all four ended up in our house where I was alone, planning to enjoy several hours of silence because birthday party. And so the party expanded to two locations and stayed expanded for the duration, which was the whole day. I was not the same person by 7 pm and C had been sanctioned twice for screaming without a valid reason such as an injury. She now faces two terms of one-page dictations*.
After this let’s say fascinating experience, I can only say my already deep admiration for the parents of multiple children just deepened further. I could handle one and I do. I could handle two but not for more than a day, during which they alternate between loud games and quiet conversation. I could handle three once a week, provided they run around all three houses rather than just ours. And I could handle four for about half an hour before life begins to seem utterly meaningless. So, dear parents of more than one child, I salute you. And dear children of such parents, respect them or else.
It’s embarrassing but I’ll admit it: I allowed myself to be dragged into an argument on Facebook. About 50 Shades of Grey, no less. The argument was with a man who insisted the book had nothing to do with fanfiction. And when I sent him a link proving the contrary he said how nice it was that people still believed in myths.
Now, hilarious as this was at the time it was also stunning because it was my first direct experience of people who will disregard facts as myths because they don’t suit their opinion. And while it’s funny when it comes to a fanfic, it’s not that funny when it comes to important thing such as, for a completely random example, epidemiology.
I watched a few documentaries about the Black Death this week, again for no particular reason at all, and one thing stood out. I don’t know how to put it nicely but it appears that we live in a modern version of the Dark Ages. The only difference seems to be that while in the Dark Ages it was the official authorities that spawned and maintained the myth (The plague was divine retribution) now it’s the population that propagates the myths. With gusto.
It happens. Especially in the summer, when temperatures run the highest for the year. All it takes is a flick of a burning cigarette or sometimes not even that. And it happened yesterday — yes, it was a day packed with things happening — right above the village.
I’ve seen some fires, mostly in the fields that farmers set on fire deliberately at the end of summer. It’s against the law for obvious reasons but we make our own rules here, come and catch me if you can and all that. I hadn’t seen a forest fire until last night and while I appreciate the experience — although I appreciate firefighters more — I’d rather keep it in the once-in-a-lifetime file.
Forest fires are spectacular, there’s no question about it and since beauty is not a moral category I will admit I was awed by the way flames licked up pines. They literally licked up the trees, then engulfed them. Flames are beautiful and I suspect one of the reasons for this is that they are mortally dangerous. What wasn’t beautiful was the way the fire was first visible as a billow of smoke, then a spot of orange glow, and within two hours it had become a line of flames spreading along the ridge both to the left and right. And the village lies right underneath this ridge. Up close, even the tiger stops being beautiful and start being just scary.
I can’t say I was too worried about the fire reaching us (we’re at, that’s right, the highest point of the village). There were fire trucks there before the fire was even visible so they acted early. And then I remembered how some fifteen years ago another forest fire had almost reached the house but stopped short of doing that, thanks to the firefighters. In short, I trust the people who fight fire for a living. No idea why, never had any experience with fires before but I just do. Maybe because I assume it’s more than a job and a lot like a mission. I may be wrong but it’s a belief I’d like to continue holding.
It is also a belief that was last night justified. They managed to cut the line of fire’s progress to the left and contained it. I hear it is still burning but it no longer smells of smoke here so it has to be limited. It’s sad to think about all the trees that died and maybe some animals who failed to get away quickly enough but I try to remind myself that forest fires do happen naturally. It’s the way of nature to cleanse itself and clear up space for the next forest. Since I’m not a weepy lady of the tree-hugging variety** this fact helps. After all, nature is not some kind of gentle giant. It’s cruel and demanding, and hasn’t got one sentimental bone in its massive skeleton.
* Dictation is how young children learn to spell right. No better way has been invented yet.
** I do hug trees, but only literally. You know what I mean.