Fire and Ice

G’Day Mob,

Sometimes the horror is unimaginable and you are left feeling helpless though your soul cries with empathy.

Two stories have come out of the USA this year that continue to reverberate with me. One you may have heard of: 19 firefighters tragically died in a firestorm in June. The other, just days ago, apparently even the national news in America is not reporting yet the death toll stands in the thousands.


I am married to a man with a strong sense of the practical, of self-reliance and of commonsense. With these attributes comes a resistance, which borders on contempt, for red-tape and authority. I live in a community where this is the norm. These are ordinary blokes but when the need arises they are extraordinary volunteer firefighters.

With news of the dead American fire-fighters  Brian’s emotions have ranged from anger (“if they had the resources to get 19 men in then they should have had the resources to get 19 men out”) to acceptance (“the conditions at a fire can change so suddenly”) to re-assurance (“don’t worry, we are volunteers, we don’t have to go in”).

I can understand his anger and his acceptance. His re-assurance is a little more hollow. I know these Coolatai men, if lives were on the line, would go into the depths of a firestorm. So I mourn for those 19 lives and for their family and friends.

RIP Granite Mountains Hotshot Crew, you are not forgotten.


It killed thousands.

It is breaking families and businesses.

It is scarring hearts for all time.

If you, like millions of their countrymen, have not heard then please go to this blog to understand. A severe blizzard raged through South Dakota this week killing thousands of cattle. I have seen photos that I do not want to share, the hurt is too much. I can only imagine coming over a hill and seeing those sights. I am in tears as I think of it. Tied to the land as we are, it is so much more than just a business. We entwine our lives with those of the animals we care for. To lose one is horrid. To lose so many breaks the heart.

If all we can do is send them our thoughts and prayers, then let us do that.

But for fate and the whims of Mother Nature, whether it be fire or ice, we would be in their shoes.


4 responses to “Fire and Ice

  1. Our thoughts are up in South Dakota with all those affected by last week’s blizzard… the tragedy is pretty hard to wrap our minds around.

    • I read one comment along the lines of “well the cattle were only going to the slaughterhouse eventually so what’s the problem”. Hard to get my mind around that attitude.

  2. G’Day Mob,
    As an addition to this post I received this lovely email from Dawn Winks who I am sure will not mind me copying it here:

    I write to personally thank you for taking the time to send your well-wishes, prayers, and thoughts of compassion to the ranchers of South Dakota. I also wanted to let you know that your messages are now being shared with ranchers all over the state. They have been printed and passed around ranching communities, as well as sent electronically to ranchers affected by the blizzard. I wish you could hear the words of gratitude that have been shared about how much this means. Your compassion is being felt and making a difference. From my heart, thank you.

    Included in this piece is an update on what is happening now, as well as ways to contribute to the South Dakota Rancher’s Relief Fund. As you’d taken the time to write, I thought this might interest you.

    It Takes a Ranch: How to Support South Dakota Ranchers Affected by the Blizzard

    With deepest gratitude for taking the time to write,

    Dawn Wink
    Author of Meadowlark

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