Last week we had a veld-fire. They seem to happen every august. It is the driest time and once a fire has been started it moves. We were a group of us making soap when we were called. We must have been 20, 30, 40 people in total out in the bush beating back a fire with tree branches and knapsacks. Our fireguard of just a few weeks prior meant that Kufunda itself was never in real danger, and yet we were all out there on our neighbour’s land doing our best to stop the fire regardless where it was.
I had several moments of feeling deep deep gratitude in the midst of the firefighting. There was focus and lightness, commitment and joy, individual initiative and working collectively – community in other words. We were there together working side by side – the accountant, the driver, the next door farmer’s wife, the nurse, the permaculture guys, the pre-school teachers, the youth, the German financial journalist visitor, his daughter – we were all there working hard. In the end we won. By 5.30 pm the fire was out, a some hours of working at it – a miracle really – in part due to the team work, the support of the fireguard, and the presence of water. Palpable joy. Although the neighbors land was scorched, they didn’t loose their house and homestead. We stopped the fire just metres from their home. All the Kufunda land was left untouched. The joy was palpable.
We had a feeling of accomplishment and kinship. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else in that moment, despite wondering a few hours earlier whether I could use my kids as an excuse not to go. Of course we don’t want the fire that close to us, and next year we agreed we will extend the reach and collaboration around the fireguard – to include the neighbour’s farm.
Each year we learn – and still – so far – each year the fire comes to offer us the gift of seeing the beauty and strength and power of our community.