This was the colour of the sky at 7 o’clock this morning.
I woke to find the bedroom drawn in various shades of orange. My mouth was gritty and dry. It tasted of metal. I thought I was dreaming at first, transported into a surreal landscape. When I realised I was actually awake, I thought it was the end of the world.
Overnight a dust storm had risen from the west. It flung around the dry, red, parched earth and transported it thousands of kilometres to the east coast of Australia.
It hovered in the sky for half of the day. As if vats of powdered paint had been catapaulted into the air and captured by the heavy winds.
At 10 o’clock the sun was still trying to break through.
As the sky began to clear the orange dust that had fallen became noticeable.
It was everywhere. On kitchen bench tops. Under cupboard doors. Inside shoes. Covering the cake of soap in the shower.
The kettle was orange. There was dust in the toaster. In-between the piano keys. The wooden floors were slippery with it. A good inch of it covered the car.
And a cobweb under the guttering was aflame like the spider who made it had dressed it up for a carnival.
Des – who lives in my street and is all-seeing and all-knowing – said his brother who is a farmer and lives in the country now has orange sheep. The dust is stuck in their wool.
He blames the farmers and mining companies for Australia’s changing climatic conditions.
Those drongos cut down all the trees, didn’t they? he says.
There may be some truth in what he says, but I suspect we’ve all had a part to play.
I hope the dust clears before the morning. It is unnerving to walk beneath a tangerine sky. It is like a vision of the future has spilled backwards into today, slowly detonating the colours we are used to; coating our lips with a silent warning.