Picture Taken 14 hours ago from the International Space Station of Australian Outback Fire
Billy Bondi sat on the stoop of his shack gazing into the Outback with his striking steel blue eyes. His face was weatherworn with deep wrinkles where days in the sun had long since taken their toll. His grizzled beard flickered in the breeze as he slowly shook his head with a look of consternation and worry. He sat in absolute silence. He listened with all his being. The boab tree in the distance barely moved in the scorching wind. Barely any of the trees still clung to life. A large beetle stuggled in the gravel in front of the stoop. Billy Bondi listened. The dadirri finally came to him. It came into focus and took shape. He once again had direction and purpose. After a long breath he stood. When he stood he could see the flat lands of the Northern Territory on fire. He turned and went back inside.
Fire was not new to these lands but Billy knew this was the final fire. He gathered up a tattered army backpack that he had roamed the outback with for years. He carefully placed his few belongings into it. A carving of the Wandjina, the creator, that his uncle had given him fifty years before was carefully placed into the sack. He put an old shirt and a pair of shorts and his other pair of shoes inside. He decided against carrying any food with him as it was not necessary for this journey, not this time. Billy picked up his walking stick and turned for the door.
He stopped in front of his government issued shack that had become decrepit years before. With his walking stick he began to draw in the sand. Patiently, carefully he drew several wavy lines one on top of the other, the shamanic symbol for fire or smoke. Next to that he drew a picture of several concentric circles which he finished with several radiating lines on each side much like the spokes of a wheel, the symbol of meeting place. It was a simple message to whomever might find it. The fire had compelled him to go to the meeting place. He was not meeting with humans this time however; he was meeting with the sky gods.
Billy stood up with and with a look of resolution secured the backpack to his person. He knelt down to make sure that the laces of his government boots were secure. He looked back at his home and appeared to wipe a tear off his eyes but perhaps it was just the sweat from his brow. He walked and walked on. Astonishingly Billy did not walk away from the fire, but directly towards it. Soon the buffering winds from the tremendous flames were making his journey even hotter. This did not hinder Billy Bondi. He walked and walked on. Now he began to cough as the purifying smoke reached towards him like the ghosts of many lost ancestors. He shrugged it off. The flames grew nearer. He did not stop or even break his stride practiced by many years of endless journeys. Soon he was stepping on embers. The smoke made him just a silhouette. He blended into the flame and disappeared…..
“The heat was remarkable. It was prolonged. That we beat the record by one degree is quite a big deal.” — Jake Crouch – Scientist with the National Climactic Data Center
“Yes poor insured homeowner, there is a Sandy Clause!” — Jake Shween
Get off the cell phone and drive! — Jake Shween