Photo by Ricardo Gomez Angel on Unsplash

Losing everything

Aimee Fenech
3 min readAug 20, 2023


As we go through the day to day struggle of the intense summer heat, the threat of a wildfire is never too far away from our minds. As the water in the acequia dwindling to a trickle it is passed through the rubber pipes making it invisible and almost completely silent.

This silence is contrasted by the day time intense loudness of the cicadas.

Cicadas are summer time insects, they are tree crickets which jump at you sometimes their noise which is created from rubbing their wings is unique. Their first appearance marks the beginning of the summer and their disappearance marks the start of fall. They spend most of their life underground and take 2–17 years to mature and crawl out of the soil to start their period of life above ground.

They start when the sun comes over the hill and stop as it goes down.

The heat is such that I need to keep wetting my t-shirt sodden to cool down in order to get through the day and as I lay down to sleep.

A fire broke out a few villages away as the one in Portugal is brought under control. This time we are lucky, last year it was a close call. Our friends in Portugal however have lost everything.

Before the fire

Their land is charred black, all the trees are burned, all the caravans which people in the community lived in gutted, solar panels and irrigation systems destroyed, water pump turned to thrash, no access to water and electricity. As they evacuated they had to move twice out of the way of the fire as the wind changed. The landscape burned at an incredible speed, without the rains everything was so dry, a slight wind did the rest.

Just like that they lost everything and where left with a barren landscape and had to start over on land bought with a bank loan they are nowhere near repaying just as members of the community have lost their jobs too.

Their children a witness to this disaster as the community draws together to quickly set up the basics, water, power, shelter.

After the fire

This is what it’s like living in this era of climate emergency, societal collapse, this is deep adaptation. This is it, we could be next, more of our friends could be next and the only thing we can do is to be supportive in every way we can.

It made me wonder what we would do, how we would react, whether we would stay and where the help would come from. There is great resilience in humanity, ingenuity, creativity, the ability to sacrifice, to organise and to survive great trials if death doesn’t come to us first and even then some of us dedicate their life to beat it.

There is great grieving that happens in the wake of a fire, for all that was lost. There is also that ever present knowledge that all could be lost again and there is determination, to live, together.



Aimee Fenech

#permaculture practitioner, teacher and designer, co-founder of #ecohackerfarm, writer, project manager and activist get in touch