We recently completed another small project at The Flying Fox, this time the renovation of an old cast iron bath tub which has been situated on the back deck of Ruru Lodge and hooked up to the solar hot water system. Now you may not see this as any big deal but for me it was the most exciting thing to have happened for a long time. Don’t get me wrong, bush baths are great fun and something everyone should try once in their lives but when you have worked at least 12 hours that day, are tired and sore and just want to relax in warm water – the idea of gathering wood, lighting the fire, waiting for half an hour or more for the water to heat and then being surrounded by smoke loses its appeal somewhat!
I was so excited the day the plumber arrived to hook up the pipes for our new bath. It felt like absolute luxury to just turn on the taps and have a hot bath! As I lay in that first bath watching the night sky I reflected on my reaction and the feelings of huge gratitude and luxury I was experiencing.
I wondered if this was how previous generations felt when they first got running water to the house or hot water that wasn’t heated on the fire? Today we take so many of these things for granted that they are no longer considered luxuries but necessities. This got me thinking about how our values change over time and in response to the circumstances we find ourselves in.
It is just over three years since we moved to The Flying Fox and what I value has certainly changed with this lifestyle change. I often say that having no road access and relying on a small cable car suspended over the river makes you truly evaluate what you ‘need’ versus what you ‘want’.
Living without TV for most of the year negates a lot of the bombardment of consumerism, the ‘must haves’ and ‘buy nows’ that modern society considers as necessity and I have ceased to find shopping a fun pastime. I value experiences now rather than possessions. Time to relax with family, to swim in the river, see a new place or read a book are my new luxuries (along with the bath!).
At Christmas, we decided to do things differently and (other than some things for the grandchildren) we have mainly bought gifts that benefit others, either through giving to charity or fundraising ventures. I’m not sure how some family members felt about ‘receiving’ a bee hive for a farmer in Vanuatu or a chicken for a family in Papua New Guinea but I decided to be true to my values this time, noticing and respecting the changes.