Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I know many of you have seen the images of towns and cities turning to brown water ways and so it is. We live in Melbourne, many kilometers  south of Brisbane and like you, are watching the flood on 24 hour news stations--but we have friends in Brisbane who have known the disorder of man-made horrors and now are experiencing the extremes to which this continent is prone. O writes, "what can I tell you? It is sad and shocking to watch the city sinking...Anna Bligh said that tomorrow morning when we wake up the city will look like a lake. We have been watching horrific scenes and our city disappearing slowly under the water, people crying and loss of life....And you are right, Di, people are doing amazing things for each other and that is nice to see. It is always in these sort of crises that people come together...human connections are unbreakable and that is comforting--Ugi [their little young dog] is also unsettled these days. He can sense something is deeply wrong." Snakes in flooded kitchens, kangaroos swimming for their lives, and the brown,brown river of Brisbane is restless, forsaking domesticating urban barriers to seep into its ancient water bed again. All rivers here are brown, Di has told me, our Yarra, Melbourne's Hudson,and all the others, mostly quiet things and in many places, just trickles or rocky empty channels for years and years but not now. Continuous rain in Melbourne for two days now, the air heavy with moisture and heat. In some way I feel privileged to be part of another continent's history, to witness the challenges that have faced Australians for so many years, and I am beginning to recognize that Aussie spirit, in cut offs and tank top. of all sexes, saying just get on with it, mate. And help the one down what was once a street to get on with it too. Something that is exceptional about all this is that it is women leaders who are captaining this ship--from the Prime Minister to the leaders of Queensland and New South Wales, the most affected states. Tired and strong, they talk to the people almost every hour, shepherding us through the terror and the loss. A child swept out of the hands of the rescuers, a mother and her children found too late in their floating car.

Global warming, the skeptics say not, much like those who are saying that the killings in Tucson had nothing to do with the "kill em" rhetoric of the frenzied right but the waters will rise, the bush fires burn, the seas grow warmer right under their feet and all the guns in the world will not preserve their "only us" geographies.

In my own body, I try to prepare for the Brighton talk, for the four month journey we will be taking on the first of February,while I wait for the results of two biopsies, the river of cancer running always through my later life.

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