It’s the post-Christmas summer holidays. Our extended family has just spent the week in an environmentally friendly hideaway in the Tararua Ranges. This eco-house is of straw-bale construction and insulation; situated for sun and powered by solar and wind. Water is provided by an on-site rainwater-tank; and is also process on-site by septic tank and worm/composting ablutions. As wood-burner stove with a wetback provides a boost to heat the water during winter and low sunlight days. It’s a great house with high stud and expansive living areas, that not only housed the 10-20 of our holiday-makers, but reminded us that there are different ways to live peacefully on the land. For a week, we have lived village-style with extra kids, extra adults, cousins, grandparents, sisters, brothers, partners and friends. We’ve shared cooking, childcare and activities. We’ve eaten together, played games together, fished, swam, sunbathed, ate some more and generally detoxed from our busy lives at school, work and the activities of middle life. It was a reminder of the important things in life.. such as reconnecting to family and not fucking up the planet.
My kids have been lucky enough to grow up in this village. They have been born, into a family that protects, nurtures and indulges its littlest members. As they grow there is always someone their own age to have fun with, share jokes and build memories with. There are always babies to coo over and learn gentleness, toddlers to find amusing and pre-schoolers to build forts and create playdough animals with. There’s always an older teenager getting into trouble to be inspired by, and young adults talking about university or new jobs and finding their way. There is always another trusted adult to talk to, who will give the same good advice as mum and dad (without having to acknowledge that mum or dad know a thing or two), there are the great aunts who seem to have both the wisdom of an aged sensei, and the irreverent sense of humour that comes with being more comfortable in your own skin. And there are the grandparents, and for some, the great grand-parents, to offer respect to and who remind us all that these are precious moments, all gone too soon.
I do love the summer break. Without really trying it’s a time to reflect on the year behind, the year ahead and assessing The Important Things. My mantra for 2017 will be simplicity. Simplicity in relationships – simple kindnesses and cares for those close to me and simplicity in living – small steps inspired by the fully self-contained eco house. In many ways it’s my one small non-violent protest to events of 2016, and the rise to power of a nonsense-leader who we can only hope will fail to do as much damage as he seems capable of. This is my protest – the one thing I can do. I will not be captive to the fear and selfishness of the world’s leaders. I will live simply. I will love simply. I will not be moved.