A year ago today, a perfect west coast summer day, we said goodbye to Meg. T and I had spent all day with her on the grass under the hills hoist, in the shade of the bottlebrush tree. We’d had six and a half years with this wonderful kelpie, and had known her for much longer. Saying goodbye was incredibly hard.
It was, in hindsight, a simple pain; a straightforward loss that we grieved deeply. We shared that grief with family, neighbours and others who loved her.
Now, a year on, the valley where Meg came from has two fingers of bushfire running north along each side of it. So far, Ensay has been lucky, but all around East Gippsland there is bushfire of intensity, scale and ferocity that is hard to imagine.
One million hectares has burned in Victoria alone. Across the eastern states, an area bigger than Tasmania has burned this season. Some say half a billion native animals are dead – birds, possums, lizards, bandicoots. This is a complex, overwhelming, terrifying summer of loss.
Despite this, today I grieve for one individual creature.
Meg was loyal, exuberant, sometimes timid; she seemed young even as her heart began to let her down. She had rich black fur and perfect tan points; she was tall and slender with one triangle ear up and one ear down. She would stop and stay on command from across an oval or a paddock, and when she retired from being a sheepdog, she chose birds as her new focus, and grew to love the beach.
When Meg came to us in 2012 it was in the context of the loss we all felt when her owner died in Ensay in 2012. But in the end, we simply loved her.