Behind closed doors

14 April 2009

Fifteen years ago, when Hanno and I first bought this little house, we drove along a one lane street, turned onto a dirt driveway and saw a very basic house on a magnificent piece of land surrounded by pine and rainforest. We didn't know it at the time, but this home, of all those we have shared over the years, would nurture us, bring us closer together and ease us along the path to a more simple life. We made some improvements as soon as we moved in to better suit our family, and put up fences to keep the dogs in, and in the time since then, apart from an interior paint job, we've been happy here and content to wake up each day within these walls.

I am still in awe of the land we live upon. I never say we own it because as far as I'm concerned, we are merely the custodians here until we pass it on to our sons; and in truth, the land probably owns us. We wake up surrounded by trees, sometimes we hear the rushing of the creek that is our back boundary, and when I walk into our back yard, even after living here 11 years, I often just stop and look, amazed at what I see. All my life's roads have lead to this place.

Our gate has been closed these past few days and if I didn't know better, I would say we had been cast adrift, completely cut off from the rest of the world. There is peace here, we hear birds call, sometimes a train in the distance, but apart from that, it's a wind rushing through the trees type of silence that feels alive with activity and energy.

There has been the undeniable whiff of self-reliance in the air over Easter. I've baked bread and nut slices, made a simple evening meal each night, set the table numerous times, washed dishes and clothes, swept, lit candles, watered plants on the verandah, watched rain fall and thought about my life here, on this land with my family, and you, my blog family. I also worked on my project, did some writing, knitting and a stocktake of the soap, yarn and fabric I have on hand. There are a hundred things I could do, and one by one I get to those that need my attention, all else can wait until its time. It's been a beautiful Easter when we both worked to produce what we need here and mended a couple of things to keep them going a while longer. After such days, it's easy to go to bed pleased with the work we've completed and tired enough to sleep deeply until the next morning.

The simple life, full of the home tasks of cooking, mending, cleaning and growing has been the way of life for the majority for many hundreds of years. But now, in the context of our modern times, when shops are full of fashions, leaf blowers, designer dog collars and pre-cooked food, when it's compared to what is available to us now, now it feels like it's in sharp contrast to how most people live. Working with one's own hands and producing the goods we need to live is truly empowering but the wonder of it is that is so easy to do - for me and for you too. These are just life skills that are easily passed on to all of us by example, by just watching others.

I look at TV sometimes and I wonder if what they show is real. Are the streets really that mean in cities? Do people really kill each other over drugs and money, and for no reason at all? Is road rage real? What life skills are being passed on by watching all that? I suppose I know the answers to all those questions and for now, on this Easter weekend, I've been content and well and truly happy to stay cocooned here, listening to the rain, stitching and knitting, and wondering if living simply can make a significant and real difference outside my gate. I wonder if Hanno thinks these same thoughts. I wonder if you do.

Thank you for coming here to share our days, it still amazes me that you do. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and lives with us here too. Welcome to the new readers, warm hugs to all the older ones. Let's all work towards getting the simple message out to all those who surround us in the normal course of our lives, and show, by example, that this way of living not only empowers and enriches us, it builds contentment and greater expectations.