As our nation prepares for the waves of infections and the wider impact of COVID-19 on lives and livelihoods, I have been struck by a familiar feeling – it is as though we are battering down the hatches before a cyclone.
Each cyclone season we have a few careful weather watchers in our home- they can see the wind patterns forming a cyclone – they can see it coming long before it hits. While the cyclone is still on the edge of the map, while the skies are still blue, we batten down the hatches: we buy food and batteries, check our radios, clear our yards of loose objects , and wonder which room in the house is the safest to be in when it hits.
And each time, we know that not every house will be affected, that only some trees in the forest will fall. We cannot predict which trees or homes. There is uncertainty and unpredictability, and a kind of random logic to a cyclone. This is a kind of uncertainty we are used to facing – nearly every summer in some parts of Australia.
Even though Cyclone Covid won’t pass through our land in a matter of hours or days, it does require us to batten our hatches, as we do each summer. To prepare, to dread, and to be ready for its impact on some of our neighbours, friends and family.
I can remember that blue sky summer dread as we watch the wind formation of a cyclone bear down on us. I can remember the empty streets and slow motion humidity as the community prepares.
I can also remember the sound of the storm swirling and smashing with a suffocating wall of sound and weird silences, leaving us isolated and cowering in the bathroom, with no power and no way to check on our neighbours.
And I can remember the oxygen saturated crisp air as the cyclone heads back out to sea or drifts inland. As it peters out and loses its energy, and leaves a messy, washed world, the air is filled with the sound and images of people helping each other clean up.
We will breath easy again. We will rebuild, and mend, and mourn together.
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