Dear friends,

I had big plans for today—January 3, 2021. After your support of my book project in March 2020, I was going to send you the Advance Reader copy of FIRE: A Message from the Edge of Climate Catastrophe. I even wrote an essay specifically for this moment—the twelve-month anniversary of the fires that took my home, farm, and wildlife sanctuary.

Then, as dawn broke this morning a deep sense of loss rolled over me like a wave. My plans felt wrong. The same tinge sits inside today’s messages from friends inside the fire scar—people who had also lost their ‘everything’ on January 3 last year. We all thought we were doing well, that our ‘recovery’ was happening, but anniversaries do something powerful to the human mind. Today tears are flowing.

It turns out this feeling even has a name—the ‘Anniversary Effect’. It is symptom of post-traumatic stress disorder. The reaction is a signal that a person is still not ‘through’ their grief.

Geoff and I had a notion this day might be hard. We still hold concern about a few souls in our community standing a bit too close to the abyss. With the Stormbird Press team, we delayed the release of FIRE to beyond the fire-danger season—out of respect for these few. The new launch date will be April 5, 2021.

Today, I am thankful for the reprieve.

I should have seen it coming, really. Many of us living within the fire scar have spent the past three weeks resisting a hungry media keen to sensationalise our loss. They want photos of us standing in front of our shed homes, wearing angry, beaten, but somehow still defiant expressions. They want quotes from us about our hurt, our loss, and what it means. They want us to cry out our disappointment in politics. I understand the machinations of media. This kind of news is their feedstock. It’s what sells column inches. Yet, it is confronting to move from consumer to fodder.

All this sums up to desire to write a very different message to each of you—the precious donors that made the writing of FIRE possible. I want to keep my message gentle.

I know in my heart, there is still one chapter to write, and I am going to take the time to finish it well. I hope you will accept my commitment that I will circulate the advance reader copy to you all, along with a series of essays, ahead of the launch.

Today, rather than telling you about FIRE, it feels far more important that I express my gratitude, draped around a new sense of hope.

I am grateful for your trust in me, and belief in the project. Without each of you, and the generous work of the Shifting Values team, the book would not be alive and well.

As the year has crawled along, I have discovered pragmatic hope in unexpected places. It has crystallised a new direction for me, as a writer and an activist. While the global community continues to march towards climate annihilation, I am still standing beside my husband in our small, scalded vineyard—saved by the giant plantation trees that mercifully shielded the firestorm’s might—caring for this sole load-stone from which we are rebuilding our future. Yet, ours is a new perspective to the one we had twelve months ago. Climate change is the texture of our lives. It’s been a hard journey to recognise this reality. I now understand my role is to be an advocate for radical adaptation. FIRE: A Message from the Edge of Climate Catastrophe will be an important foundation of that new work.

Today, I wrap that hope in my thanks to each of you. Your gift is extending into my future.

From my heart to yours,

You can keep track of the progress and read the advance chapters of FIRE: A Message from the Edge of Climate Catastrophe as I complete them in the coming months on my website. You can also read more about my radical adaptation journey if you are interested.


Author, activist, radical
WildPolitics: Writing about the politics of wildlife protection
PO Box 73, Parndana, 5220, South Australia

Published by susanfarquhar5

Visual artist lives and works in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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