Having recently had the opportunity for a short break, thanks to The Global Hobos, we headed off to Taupo for two days of R & R. A search of Air BnB turned up a great modern apartment in the quiet suburb of Botanic Heights and we arrived to a warm welcome from host Anita.
We had deliberately booked something which looked different to home and we certainly achieved that – the house was only four years old and the apartment, which was actually the ground floor of the family home, was beautiful in its modernity and minimalist feel.
The black and white décor, wall to wall carpeting, flushing toilet and the indoor bath (which didn’t need a fire underneath) all felt very luxurious. The TV, which rose majestically from the cabinet at the touch of the button, had us open mouthed in wonder! The double glazing and floor length blackout curtains gave a sense of isolation from the outside world, almost hermetically sealed in fact.
This led us to both begin reflecting on what has quickly become very ‘normal’ for us at the Flying Fox. We have become intricately connected to nature and the elements. We know when it rains because we hear it on the roof, we are aware of the dawn because we see the light, and the cry of the Ruru is replaced by the morning chorus of the Tui. There was no morning bird sound in Taupo – not even a sparrow farting, the only approximation of a dawn chorus was the faint hum of car engines as the commuters made their way to work.
It sometimes takes stepping out of an environment or situation to see it clearly and this week I reflected on how lucky I am to have such a rich connection to papatuanuku (mother earth) in all her many guises. We walk barefoot at home the majority of the time and the connection this gives in terms of our sense of touch is quickly missed when in situations where society demands footwear! Interestingly, Dr Isaac Eliaz describes the increasing body of scientific research that suggests there are many health benefits to ‘earthing’ or walking outside barefoot including better sleep, increased antioxidants and reduced inflammation. I’m not sure about this but I sure miss it when I feel obliged to put shoes on now.
At home, we live with the elements. We can generally tell what the temperature is outside without going out, we can smell the wet earth or sense the impending thunder storms. The tendrils of jasmine or koru of new ferns pushing up through the deck and even sometimes the house walls, let us know that the whenua (land) is alive and well. The rushing of the awa (river) after a storm and the slightly silty colour of some of our water gives an intimate connection to what is happening in nature. Daily life is often dictated to by the weather – not just in terms of whether the lawns are dry enough cut but actually whether we can get across the river and into town or not. We wear clothing because it is practical and comfortable for the time of year, not because it is the latest trend or colour. Life forms a rhythm with the seasons – we have jam making time, firewood cutting time, apple picking time …….
Some may find this strange, backwards even, but it brings a richness and simplicity to life. The lack of cell phone reception and limited access to other media such as radio and television mean that we are not bombarded by consumerism and the ‘must have now’ culture. We have found over the last couple of years that we have moved to buying things because we need them, not just because we want them. Having to bring everything across the river in the cable car certainly helps in this regard too!
As a society we strive to have control over every aspect of our daily lives, however our way of life involves relinquishing a certain amount of that control and accepting that things will happen in their own timeframes, we have to work with not in spite of nature …..indeed, to every season there is a purpose!