Friday, February 4, 2011

A chilling reminder

I was born five years after Tropical Cyclone Tracy and the almost complete obliteration of what was Darwin. It's one of those things, a haunting thought that wind and rain could be so severe, that people would lose houses, lives, everything.
In the Cyclone Tracy exhibit at the Darwin museum, visitors can walk in to a small, dark room, and listen to a recording of the cyclone made by a priest, who took shelter after attending a midnight mass service. I found this at once fascinating and heart-wrenching, the sound of the wind, like a wild animal with no care or concern for anything in its path, is more terrifying to me than any mythical or human threat. Its absence of reason or ration; it's just wind, but it's so much more. 
Th above was a beginning of a blog post that I'd written on the eve of Cyclone Yasi's impending, and inevitable, encounter with the coast of North Queensland.
It seems a little pithy and trite now, but still... cyclones scare the shit out of me. I was quite taken by the contrast between the way that (for example) Yasi was reported compared to other cyclones in history. Incidentally, I seem to compare all to Tracy, probably because she is, to me, a spectre that looms large in the history of Australia, and represents the kind of cold, emotionless destruction that has such deeply personal impacts on those that withstand it.
Farmers, whose resilience and strength was tested after Cyclone Larry's decimation of banana crops, face once again the prospect of rebuilding their livelihood. I can only imagine the despair felt at the sight of a flattened banana plantation crop; knowing that your family's income and wellbeing depend on something that has been all but obliterated by something that seems so casually volatile as a bit of wind.
Though it's not just 'a bit of wind'.
It's so much more - a wild animal, a cold, unreasoning and uncaring monster...

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