Ash No 10, 2011
The word on many people lips this week has been ash. Not a very interesting topic one would think but it has buzzed about offices, homes and various forms of media all over the country.
The problem has been the ash from a volcano in South America which is spewing out massive clouds of the stuff that has gradually made its way around the world. It has become a general nuisance to many people as it hangs about in the air preventing planes from taking off and landing and forcing travellers to try and find alternate domestic forms of transport.
Meetings have been rescheduled; celebrations, theatre appearances and funerals have been poorly attended by interstate travellers. The poor folk waiting to travel internationally have been bunked down on uncomfortably hard airport floors and seats and after a few nights and days of sleep deprivation are ready to blame anyone who looks anything like an airline employee for their predicament. I don’t think it matters to them if they are speaking to the top brass or to the cleaning ladies; they just want to blame someone.
Many seem to have completely lost the plot and evidently consider that a large fire hose and a good yell at Mother Nature should fix the lot!
White-faced airline bosses are fronting up nightly to the television cameras trying to appear calm and reasonable while their brains must be running hot as they calculate the losses in revenue resulting from their planes sitting idle on the tarmacs collecting dust (or maybe it is ash).
We have watched all this going on from the comfort of our couches and muttered the sort of things that non-involvement in a disaster brings to the mind of the observer’s lips, such as ‘poor things’ and then add as we settle down in front of our wood-fired heater a little more comfortably, ‘glad it isn’t us.’
Also featured on our regional news has been a complaint by our local firemen that they were being called out to too many fires resulting from careless persons who have put hot ash onto piles of rotting down autumn leaves.
Teddy did his ‘manly’ thing of huffing and puffing at the stupidity of people doing such an obviously silly thing. ‘Should know better etc’
His outburst would have left that grumpiest of men, Victor Meldrew, speechless with admiration.
About three days later we woke and I went to the kitchen to make the first cup of tea for the day. I looked out at the small wisps of steam rising from various parts of the back garden as the winter sun melted the heavy frost. One area behind our garden shed which backs onto two other neighbouring garden sheds and a new budgerigar cage seemed to have an uncommonly large amount of steam rising quickly and thickly into the clear morning air.
I called ‘Teddy, what is that?’
‘What?’ He sauntered across to the window.
Like a flash he was out into the -3 degree morning. Next moment he was rushing across the white frost encrusted grass wearing only a pair of work boots and the habitual light cotton short legged pyjamas he wears all year. In one hand he held a spade, in the other he had the bucket used for the dog’s water. Soon he was digging into the leaves behind our shed and pouring water into a hole.
It didn’t appear to help a great deal and more smoke and steam rose in an ever increasing column. I felt a twinge of apprehension as I stayed well away from the action but ensured my hand was close to the phone ready to dial 000.
After much frantic running back and forth and more digging (you will appreciate running in boots not fastened properly can make the physical action appear somewhat unusual and a little silly to the onlooker) gradually the column diminished and the emergency was over.
Other than for his knees having turned an attractive shade of blue from the cold, and contrasting well with the bright red of his face brought on by the exertions, the emergency appeared to be over.
I said nothing when he eventually came back inside smelling strongly of hot ash and burnt leaves. I made the tea and we wandered back to the bedroom as he spread the odour of relief, burning guilt and embarrassment behind him.
I continued to say nothing about the episode feeling he felt quite silly enough without me pointing it out.
Ours and the neighbours’ sheds hold all the usual things that are thrown in them such as lawnmowers, lawnmower fuel and various tools and it would have been dreadful to have all the contents go up in smoke but at the very least, insurance would have covered some of it. But to have our neighbour who has just spent an enormous amount of time and expense lovingly building a palace for his pet budgerigars presented with eight or ten roast birds for his Sunday lunch would have been dreadful.
Since that day Teddy has admitted what happened to various mates who commiserated, mainly because they have been guilty of doing the same thing. One fellow actually managed to burn his fence down and another succeeded in spectacular flames reaching for the sky before he could get things under control. He spent a long time ‘in the dog house’ having been put there by his neighbours and his wife.
So yes, ash has been a big topic all round lately Del, I hope it clears up soon.
Cheers from your ‘flower child friend’