Samantha Hawker shares thoughts about her artworks in The Salon.
Eucalyptus, Smoke Haze
Just before Christmas we find ants rimming the sink. ‘I think they’re thirsty,’ Tom says.
Once on Richard Fidler’s Conversations I heard D’harawal elder Aunty Fran Bodkin say we can learn a lot about the weather from the way meat ants behave.
They swarm before it is going to rain. They rim their nests with tiny white stones. This warns of really hot weather, bushfires coming through.
I follow the trail of ants down the corridor, out over the deck and down the steps to their nest by the dehydrated maple tree. White stones, black ants, bone dry earth.
The talk on the radio has a hushed, doomed feeling to it. Bushfires are ravaging the country and the fire season has barely begun.
At our farm in the Snowy Monaro it is dry and windy. The trees usually submerged in the middle of the lake are growing out of the receding waterline. We clear the gutters and pack the most precious paintings and books into the car.
The night after the fires came through I stand in the house that wasn’t meant to be standing and look out at the moonlit landscape.
Hundreds of lights from still burnings stumps dot the hill like candles held by the audience of a large concert.
The air tastes like ash.
The house is empty of ants now. The smoking bush is silent except for the crack of falling trees.
I wonder what has come of the Willy Wagtail nest that lived in the pine tree outside the door to the lake.
Last week there were three baby Wagtails inside. The pine tree survived the fires. But the nest, and the Wagtails, are gone.
Eucalyptus, Smoke Haze, 2020, 1st image
Eucalyptus, Fire, 2020, 2nd image