Fear Shoots: After the Fires


[Just a few notes from early March, after the megafires, before the pandemic lockdowns… Took the photos in and near small town of Braidwood]

Fear Shoots. Driving, before the pandemic lockdown, from Nowra to Narooma on the south coast through the forests ravaged by the summer mega-fires. The epicormic buds and shoots – the traumatised pyrophytic trees re-sprouting from the scorched trunks in fear – make the burnt eucalypts look like strange moss forests, the complex, distorted shapes and angles now visible with all the stark clarity of a charcoal print. These fear shoots are of course adaptive survival and re-birth shoots, fresh new leaves seeking their lost mother, the life-giving and –destroying sun.

Sunburnt. The usually white- or grey-stemmed spotted gums that have survived the inferno now look strangely orange, glowing in the sunlight like Donald Trump with a fake spray-tan. They have spent too long a time in the extreme heat of the fires, our artificially created fire bombs, the result of our long mismanagement of this land.

Missing Crowns. Where the fires have crowned the sites resemble sites of bomb damage. It is as if the sheer explosive force of the fuel-load- and eucalypt-oil-fuelled has ripped through the landscape leaving only black, spindly tree remnants. At the same time this utter destruction has thus opened up a new sense of space: one now has a clear view both through the ex-forest to the scorched, bare, grey-mottled earth and upwards to the skies. Even as most tree trunks now sprout their first epicormic fear-shoots, something still seems to be missing. Then one realises: their heads have been blown off.


~ by Peter Lach-Newinsky on August 13, 2020.

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