When the Fire Comes By

WHEN THE FIRE COMES BY The Book Cover Yolande Oakley


There are sometimes fractures in World Time from which there is no going back.  Nothing can ever be the same.

The liminal moment where one year become another.  In that infinitesimal microsecond yesterday becomes tomorrow. 2019 became 2020. When the fire came by.

We all knew it would happen sooner rather than later.  Everything was sneeze dry.  Decades of forest mismanagement, careless cluttering of our air with carbon and heedless headlong idiot pursuit of perpetual economic growth would exact penalties.  ‘How many Earths did you use today, Daddy?’

It happened.  Caught in an orange snow-globe of smoke our forests, houses and pasts burned.  Conspicuous consumption and small heart held heirlooms were consumed together indiscriminately in a conflagration bigger in area than some countries.  The cross hatched staccato calligraphy of burnt stands of te-trees faded in and out of smoke like a dream of Middle Earth.  Where there had been houses, tangles of twisted corrugated iron rattled and streamed smoke in the fire born winds.

Yolande Oakley

Like busy disturbed ants we smothered and soused ember-children of the main fire.  Houses were saved.  Houses were lost.  Refugees huddled on the shore and in shelter, or faced the fire with the inadequate whatever they had.

That was the birth of what you hold in your hands.

When we are presented with the overwhelming, we flee or reify, despair or cope, blame or build. 

I am a maker; Yolande is a maker. 

I am a maker; Yolande is a maker. Photo – Rachel Mounsey 

This is what we have made out of the pain, fear, hope, courage, dreams, ruin, ashes, triumphs, and flames.  This is what we have made – witness to the indomitable blind purpose of wild forests, heathlands and shorelines to become, to repair.  This is what we have made to go on a table or a shelf in your new built houses, temporary shelter or your place that was spared.

True makers have an overpowering impulse to heal what they can.  If you have the need, may this book help you to heal.

Don Ashby

All proceeds from the sale of this book, after printing and distribution costs, will go to support local artistic projects. Members of our Croajingolong community who lost their houses will be offered a free copy.

Yolande Oakley

Written by Don Ashby and rendered into images by Yolande Oakley

For an interview with Don Ashby & Yolande Oakley on Life Matters – ABC-RN – click HERE