She knew summer was here, but that didn't stop her throwing open the sliding door to the outdoors and letting it blast her in the face.
Stepping outside and closing the door behind her, she squinted in the harsh, overly orange sunlight. Summer was a messy conglomeration of sights, scents, textures, and sounds. The powdery dust of the backyard that, once over the winter had been a green grassy velvet, coated her feet and puffed up in small clouds with each step she took. The hot westerly wind scorched her cheeks and blew dust into her eyes as if someone had just opened an enormous fan-forced oven somewhere and let the escaping air flood across the Australian landscape.
Trees bent and swayed, moaning as the wind tore at them; their leaves not shiny, but matte with the layer of dust that clung to their sappy greenery. Trudging through the blowing dust and thin spindly remains of what had been backyard lawn, she opened the gate and turned the corner of the house where she finally felt the full brunt of the gale. Magpies in the bush across the road continued to sing above the roar, and cicadas - the sirens of summer - shouted their guttural croaky rattle back at them. Walking through the tall brown grass, she felt intensely aware of her bare feet. Snakes are a common enemy in summer, and every slithery sound in the grass and every scuttle among the pebbles made her jump. It all sounded like summer.
The scent on the breeze was full of dry heat, bruised gum leaves, eucalyptus and smoke. Yes, smoke. Shading her eyes as she gazed into the distance, she could see rising billows on the horizon. Sadly, not clouds. Bushfire season was in full swing, and should could imagine the crackling rush as the out-of-control flames engulfed paddocks full of tinder brush and dry grass, hungrily consuming everything - and everyone - that stood in its path.
The Australian outback is a fierce place during the summer. Its dry hardened soil, browned trees, and intense sunlight that burns your skin so rapidly you feel you are under a magnifying glass is not for the faint-hearted in the least. But there is a rugged beauty in it. If the fires weren't so devastating for families and animals, and the heat such a toil to work in, she could almost love the wildness of it. She could feel the magic...
When tremendous storms roll in over the distant mountains at the close of day; lightning rending the air, and thunder cracking overhead, whilst the wind threatens to tear you from your feet and fling you into the sky; the trees whistling and singing in the almost frightening gale. When the sun goes down and leaves brilliant red streaks that illumines the appearing stars, and the purple-blue dusk of the night bends down to meet it. Somehow the smell of smoke that lingers on the air with the scent of twilight, and the gumtrees; the feel of the earth cooling beneath your feet, and the wind dying to a sweet whisper that ruffles your hair; the chirping of the crickets, a lone dog barking and the warbling greeting of the Willy-Wagtails: all of it becomes such an engulfing and entrancing experience that all she can do, is stand in that intrinsic peace and harmony of God's incredible nature, and soak it in.
Note: The beauty and wonder of it aside, NSW, Australia has been suffering from severe drought and bushfires at the moment. There have been lost homes, and many evacuations. We would all truly appreciate your prayers for rain, and relief from the gale force winds that don't help with fighting fires.