There's some good thoughts in this opinion peace by Richard Glover:
Broadcaster and Sydney Morning Herald columnist
February 14, 2020 — 4.00pm
The rains have come but let's hope they don't wash away the memories of this terrible summer. They haven't for the animals – not yet. Up at our bush block, the kangaroos crowd around the few remaining structures. They are thin and bedraggled by rain.
The little ones, in particular, don't run away. There's nowhere else to go, just an endless carpet of black ash, stretching for many kilometres in all directions. One tiny fellow looks up into my camera as if to say, "What am I meant to do now?"
The Green Wattle Creek fire tore through this country, reducing over a quarter of a million hectares of startlingly beautiful bush to a blackened wasteland. The only remaining feed lies in the few metres around each building. In saving each shed or house, the RFS also saved a narrow apron of drought-weary grass.
It's this the kangaroos are relying on, and why they're clustered close around each isolated building in a way I've never seen before. They work away at what's left of the chewed-down grass. Sometimes there's a lump of sweet potato left out by the locals.
Our back deck is heavy with kangaroo scats, the result, I'm guessing, of the night they sheltered close to the house as the fire pushed in from all sides. Below that deck, there's now a wombat in residence – not the best news for the foundations, but, as part of the species who helped cause all this, who am I to question his choice of evacuation centre?
Straight after the fires, the gum leaves turned white. They looked – and sounded – like paper. When the wind came through, they shook like a Japanese paper wind-chime; it was the eeriest sound you can imagine.
Now, five weeks since the fire raged through, the leaves have turned russet. A puff of wind sends them falling to the ground. Australia's trees are not deciduous, right? They are now. It feels like mid-fall in North America.
In a few weeks' time, it really will be autumn, but a strange autumn that will masquerade as spring. After so much rain – about 100 millimetres in a few days – we'll have a surge of growth. It's rain, not flame, that kindles what Dylan Thomas called "the green fuse".
Already, deep in the forest, a handful of trees are sprouting green, tiny leaves clustered on the trunk, luminous against the matt black of burnt bark.
The trunks ooze a white foam which, in the heavy rain, is driven into the streams that run hard along the dirt track outside our place. It looks like someone has spilt a bottle of detergent, but the white foam, I'm later told, is a chemical compound, rich in saponins.
An optimistic narrative will be hard to resist once the green shoots return.
When rain comes after drought, the eucalypts shed the chemical to help the rain penetrate the dry soil around their base.
Isn't nature wonderful?
Yes, but here lies our peril. Can we indulge our wonder while not discounting our worry? Can we repeat our customary phrase – "the bush will recover, the people will rebuild" – while also remembering the rage, panic, terror and pain of this terrible summer?
We can comfort ourselves by endlessly quoting – as our politicians love to do – the words of Dorothea Mackellar: "I love a sunburnt country … of droughts and flooding rains."
Or we can read Henry Lawson's poem about the Paroo, a river which, in drought, grows so insignificant that Lawson's hapless travellers step over it, oblivious, but which then floods back into health. (Early this week: 2.29 metres and rising).
Or we can chuckle over John O'Brien's Said Hanrahan, written in 1919, with a farmer's complaints about drought, replaced with his complaints about flood, with the same mournful mantra: " 'We'll all be rooned', said Hanrahan."
The fires, nearly all of them, are now out. The rains have come, although not everywhere. Communities are tighter, more united, bound by a million moments of bravery and kindness. Everywhere, there is bottomless gratitude for the firefighters.
But nothing will bring back the billion animals, birds and reptiles lost in this state alone – nor the frogs, fish, platypus or insects not included in what scientists say is a conservative estimate. And nothing, of course, will bring back the 34 Australians who lost their lives.
Some trees will recover, some won't. Ground cover will return, but will it be in the form of weeds or native grasses? In some places, the fire burnt with such intensity, the seed bank will be destroyed. Rainforests, ill adapted to fire, may never recover.
An optimistic narrative will be hard to resist once the green shoots return. That tiny kangaroo, now too exhausted to escape my camera, will soon, I hope, be bouncing away with its mob.
And yet this terrible summer should remain a line in the sand. It should remain a call to arms. It should be confirmation – if confirmation were needed – that, in a world of climate change, Australia is the canary in the mine.
The bush will recover. The burnt towns will be rebuilt. Our job? We must remember this terrible time - and the promises we made to ourselves, right at that moment we were ringed by flame.
The world must change. How about now?