Day 8: #joyfulgiving366 – have you seen the rain?

Some rain – but not much

We woke up this morning to cool and relative normalcy. And it rained!

It didn’t rain much, and we missed it as we were a shopping centre getting my boys haircuts. I knew it was scheduled to rain, and while waiting for my boys, a lady in the salon said it had been raining in Cooma. “My son owns a motel there,” she said. “It rained black! His place is full of evacuees, and people have helped him clean it up.”

When we came out of the shopping centre, we noticed at once that it had rained. My boys looked at the water on the ground and the (few) drops on our car with fascination. “I haven’t seen rain in so long,” said my 10-year-old. “Maybe in November?”

Truth be told, I can’t remember the last time it rained, either.

While the air quality was much better, it still wasn’t fabulous. It was just our new normal. The underground carpark in our apartment block was still smokey, and I suspect the smoke is going to take a long time to shift. Most national institutions in Canberra were closed. And the school holiday program was shut, as well. The weather forecast for later in the week is horrid (39C on Friday), but for today it was cool and overcast. Nice.

My boys had another afternoon at home chilling out. My 7-year-old (again) had trouble breathing in the evening and couldn’t go to sleep. I think it’s more anxiety than anything. In saying this, I’m not dismissing the fact that he genuinely has trouble breathing, but I do think more than anything he’s stressed and worried and that exacerbates it. Many families are evacuating their kids out to avoid the smoke. I had wanted to organise playdates for them in December/January, but their close friends have extended their stay in Sydney to avoid the smoke. I’m wondering whether I should have tried to send my kids to see their cousin in Queensland – that said, my family are busy and I’m not really sure where we would stay, or what I would do. Or even if there are airline tickets available at a decent price.

Canberra bashing is unfair

Most people I know are stressed. Canberrans are, for the most part, more focused on assisting others that have suffered – especially evacuees from the South Coast – then their own wellbeing. There’s been a certain amount of negativity in the media about Canberra, tied up in anger towards senior leadership.

Let me say straight up that the people who live in Canberra are by and large not the elected officials. Federal members of parliament, unless they represent Canberra, usually only come here when parliament is sitting or when they have business here. They do not live in Canberra. Canberrans don’t deserve this smoke haze and it’s not some kind of deserved karma for failed climate policy (in fact, Canberrans, by and large, are leading Australia on climate change activism and policy). Canberrans are opening their hearts and wallets to help people who are sheltering here. I am surprised and proud by the number of my Canberrans who have opened up their homes to strangers, donated generously to causes, and offered free services to families to help keep them occupied in Canberra. (Check out the threads on the Bushfire Emergency accommodation i Canberra FB group.) If anything, most people I know (despite being under stress themselves with the air quality) want to help in whatever way they can.

Which I think is partly adding to the collective sense of stress: we all want to help, but it’s not exactly clear how. (Plus a lot of Canberrans are experienced PTSD from the 2003 fires – especially those who were directly affected.) There are various ways to donate money, and there are charities involved. But it’s oddly quiet. Whenever there is a call for donations, they get inundated almost immediately.

My decluttering efforts were successful. I picked out two books in my bookcase I had never used and offered them on my Buy Nothing Project group.

Someone responded in minutes asking, pleading, to have these books. She was at my place in 15 minutes to collect both. I was a bit amused, as the same person had said yes, then no, for another item. But she was having trouble getting her toddler to eat and so really wanted these books. I really hope they work for her.

Isn’t it amazing how things you have, but don’t use, are often exactly what someone else wants? Have you ever had that experience of giving away clutter that helps someone else in a meaningful way?

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