31 July 2013
Up in Ash
Robyn Davidson is a Nomad Conversation / Anna Krien
A reading list of books children won’t be able to put down Blog / Jane Nethercote
Just as Dumbo Feather 35 was going to print, the crazy summer also brought devastation when it sparked out of control fires, which ripped through parts of Tasmania and burned entire towns to the ground. We got the most incredible letter sent to us at Dumbo Feather, from a woman named Angela Lowe who was living in one of these towns and lost everything. As a mother of two kids, with no home and only black ash to remind her of what the fires had taken, she wrote to say that her whole collection of Dumbo Feather magazines had been burned, and the worst part was—she had borrowed them all from a friend. Who cares about losing a magazine collection?! We could imagine a thousand other more valuable things she had lost. This woman is our hero. We were humbly reminded of the power of stories to heal and bring us together. We printed her letter in issue 35 (also below), and dedicated the issue to her and the town of Murdunna.
Dear Dumbo Feather,
It’s seven weeks since the devastating fires that swept through South Eastern Tasmania took my home, workshop, garden and livelihood in one massive hot sweep. I’m now sitting at the table of someone else’s home, a beach shack at Sommers Bay in Murdunna, eating muesli, drinking tea, surrounded by their things, pondering the next step that I need to take to get life back on track.
Yesterday afternoon after collecting my son from the school bus we stopped into the Murdunna Store (amazingly still standing and often referred to as the centre of the universe). To my utter delight was a stack of Dumbo Feathers sitting on the front counter. Overjoyed I threw one in my basket, exclaiming, “Nice work! Dumbo Feather in Murdunna!”
As I picked it up this morning ready to delve deep into your first quarter (and escaping the reality of our first quarter) it dawned on me—they’re all gone. Not my collection of Dumbo Feather, but my dear friend and neighbour’s, Rachel Dean.
At first when the house burnt down, I tried to stop thinking about “the things” that were now ash, choosing instead to focus on life; the beauty amongst the devastation, rising up from the ashes like a shining light. Every day a new image pops into my mind representing what was.
Yesterday the image of my gorgeous friend Jacqui’s surfboard popped into my mind, shooting up from the depths of a wave. I hear the words, “Okay Ange, so I’m happy for you to use my surfboard, but it’s special, I had it custom made by a shaper here in Tassie, it even has my name pencilled onto it, so if anything were to happen to it…” I imagined how it might have melted in my bedroom.
Today, it was a stack of Dumbo Feathers. I’d wrangled the entire collection from the bookshelf in Rachel’s spacious toilet to search for an article I’d read about interviewing your children. I wished for a moment that I was one of those super organised and reliable friends who returned things systematically. I’m a little more random than that.
Some of the books that were cremated in the fire still contained visible text; the ink didn’t seem to burn away. But when I reached to pick one up, it turned to ash between my fingers. There was no sign of the Dumbo Feather collection in the remains.
While the beautiful people in my world wouldn’t dream of mentioning such things at this time in our lives, I find the burning feeling that arrives in my chest when I recall something special that has left our physical world is worse when it’s for something I’d borrowed, or something that is simply irreplaceable.
I’d never purchased a Dumbo Feather before yesterday. I’d just walk up the hill to Rachel’s house and flick through hers. Sometimes she’d say, “Take it home and keep reading Ange.”
Thankfully Rachel and Jet are still up there on Duck Creek Rd, amidst their charred and blackened 100 acres, standing, like a pillar of hope. It’s miraculous that their beautiful home and studio is still there, given the ferocity of the fire that took our place only 200 metres down the hill. They’ve lost other things; tools, kayaks, vehicles, the seclusion of their beautiful bush retreat and the smells, sounds and creatures of the bush that encompassed them.
But as shared by Berry in the editor’s note, we are stumbling along together here. We’re beating on the blackened earth calling out with the same ferocity of the fire—we are still here. Nothing is more important than now. We have a story to share.
Your stories at Dumbo Feather help us live with passion and inspiration.
Angela and the Murdannaites.
Keep an eye out here for more updates from Angela, or share the journey as Murdunna rises up at murdunnarising.wordpress.com.
Photo by David Keats.