Lament to the Garden Route Fire: Contrast of Spirits

The Garden Route fire that spread widely and caused much devastation in its wake (to nature, towns and human lives), began in the early hours of 7 June 2017. This is a date we shouldn’t soon forget. This date was not only the start of a destructive fire, but it was also an eye opener to something beautiful. To remember this disaster that emotionally touched people from far and wide, here are a few amazing artworks that focuses on fire and it’s effects.

Fire Phoenix by Simon Bannister
Fire Phoenix by Simon Bannister

The Destructive Spirit of the Garden Route Fire

We don’t need to search hard to find news about the Garden Route fire and what it caused. Plenty of articles cover the sadness of loss. This loss comes in a variety of packaging. People lost their lives, their loved ones, their homes, their pets and their landscape.

Zjawa by Klamek97
Zjawa by Klamek97

It is hard for many South Africans to say goodbye to what we know and remember of Knysna – in the heart of our Garden Route. Nevertheless we have no choice but to look at the blackened landscape and know that we must become humble. Yet, there are so much more we need to worry about.

It is easy to sit in front of the computer and eat lunch without a second thought about how lucky we are to be able to do so. On the other hand, we are now brought to the awareness that some people are without all their comforts. Those whose houses burned do not even have clothes or their important documents. It’s humbling to think that the simple things we usually do not need to think or worry about can so easily be taken away.

Further, the already poor are made poorer, as the little they had is now gone. The spirit of the fire took it all. The spirit of fire is destructive. It takes and doesn’t give back. It offers nothing but death, loss and fear. Can it be said that the spirit of fire also plays with our emotion? For many it is hard to read about the fires without tears welling up. However, there is always two sides to a coin.

The Courageous Spirit of the Community

It is in dire times that people come together the most. Have you noticed how you haven’t seen most of your family for years until someone dies? This same phenomenon took place from day one of the Garden Route fire. Well-known companies wasted no time in supplying anything from food to recycled water for the firemen to use.

Apart from the companies, the community itself came together. Calls for aid were made and people answered. Those overseas offer financial help when possible, while those in South Africa has opportunities to give items at drop off zones where DHL will deliver it for free to where it is needed. The communities close to the affected areas work hard to help animals and people alike in many ways.

Thus, the spirit of the community is filled with love, care and a giving nature. We give back and we offer comfort. Without an extra push from the contrasting destruction of fire, we would not reach our new heights of caring. These contrasting spirits make something special together and allow growth in both nature and ourselves.

Soliloquy by Annie le Roux

Soliloquy by Annie le Roux

Growing Stronger
Growing Stronger by Janet Botes

In the end, the landscape will regrow. Green life will come from the black and the contrast in colours will be beautiful. In the black smoke the fire create, we find ourselves touched, blessed and humbled, while the cup of opportunities to make a difference overflows. The question is just what you will make of it? Will you see the spirit of fire, spirit of the community or the contrast between them? We need contrast to bring out the best in art and ourselves.