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Fire defeated water last weekend. Nothing like a fire building power close to home to focus the mind on raking, and displace the pleasures of rowing gently on the waterways. The fire at Buckyjumba is surreptitiously burning away while attention is on the drastic Blue Mountains fires, doubling its size in the last few days. It only needs heat and wind to beat it into a frenzy of flame and destruction heading this way. It's interesting that both fire and boating drive you obsessively to weather forecasts, a reminder of how weather-dependent humans are, despite our attempts at insulation.

However, raking has lost none of its pleasures. As I dragged a pile of leaves from a hollow at the base of a casuarina, I noticed a fat, short maroon stalk which muttered “Orchid? Maybe?” at me. I creaked to my knees for a closer look, and it was indeed a hyacinth orchid. * When I revisited it the next day, fearing wallaby depredations, I saw its companions: dianella buds, a faint almost invisible blue, on a slender stalk rising from robust spear-shaped leaves.




My tendency to scarify the hillside, fearing the power of a stray leaf to combust the house, was brought to an abrupt halt when I realised that I was scraping moss from a very dry rocky hillside. I'd been dragging it out in small mats, along with the matted casuarina needles. Fortunately I am now using a rake with plastic tines, rather than my blue, metal behemoth, so I could reduce my savagery to gentleness and leave moss behind as I removed the covering of leaves.



The hillside has a number of young spotted gums. Their bark is beginning to peel, folding back to reveal fresh green slits or messier doorways of bark.


During an early morning rake in an onshore breeze after rain, reassuring drops scattered from the trees and the dry scritch of leaves that had been my weekend continuo faded into the silence of slight dampness.


* No it wasn't! I'm losing my already limited ID powers.