Stories from my Sketchbook . . .
The trees in the park at the end of my street took a bit of a battering last year. They were set on fire (deliberately it would seem) in two separate incidents, both times in the very early morning . . .
As you can imagine, it is somewhat unnerving to open your front door in the early morning to see bright orange flames climbing skyward and what appears to be a whole park on fire. (As it turned out the whole park wasn’t actually on fire—it just looked that way from where I was standing . . . )
(For the benefit of my overseas friends . . . The trees in this park are nearly all gumtrees (eucalypts) which although native to Australia can now be found all over the world. These trees have adapted to survive—and even thrive—after a fire. When their leaves fall they create dense carpets around the base of the trees and the trees’ bark also tends to peels off in long streamers, adding to the flammable ground cover. The eucalyptus oil contained within these trees is also highly flammable. When these trees catch fire, they really catch fire . . . )
We were lucky. Both times our local fire brigade had the fire under control very quickly and very little damage was done. The scrubby undergrowth was completely burnt away (hopefully whatever little critters were in there managed to get well away too) and the trunks of the trees were seared and charred . . . but they were all still standing.
Months later the undergrowth has completely regenerated, the little critters have returned and the only reminder of the fires are the blackened scorch marks reaching high into the trees.
I am happy the firemen saved the trees. I’ll be even happier if they catch the bastard that set them on fire in the first place . . .