We did it! We actually made the giant leap we’ve been dreaming about for years. Yay – and yikes… There’s mixed feelings. Anxiety. Glee. A sore neck. Optimism overall, I think. The adjustment period commences.
This is the first post written on the farm. I sit here housebound by weather, a little before midday, glancing out at the ceaseless drizzle from our new study. Much like Auckland in springtime, our little farm seems trapped within a perpetual cloud. If only the wet weather would spread itself over the inevitably dry summer soon to hit. Char sits quietly nearby, clicking and clacking away studiously at her work. There are no traffic sounds, only birds. There are no street lights at night, only stars. There’s a distant hum that’s missing. I’m not used to this much tranquillity. It almost sets you on edge, as if at any moment there could be a startling noise like police sirens racing by or an impatient driver honking their horn. Or the commotion of unrelenting road-works. A part of you expects the disturbance, but it never comes.
Simultaneously, it also feels unsettling to know that we can’t go back to that little Auckland unit in which we’ve lived for four years. It can no longer be called “home”. The farm is certainly a far better place to create a traditional “home”, of course, and it already holds dominion over our hearts, but saying goodbye to the familiarities of our cave-like dwelling is a bitter-sweet ordeal. We spent half of our relationship there, we grew there, we gardened there.
The move itself went smoothly. No hiccups. I wish we had some funny story to tell, but it really was an unencumbered transition. We had Char’s mum and sister help out. They drove a ute towing a horse-float, which, along with our two vehicles, managed to fit all of our remaining items. Couldn’t have done it without their help – thanks, guys!
It always astounds me how much crap people amass. And it really shows on moving day. I feel ashamed. Do we really need all this? Certainly not. Yet we have a policy of not owning anything which isn’t useful, so I don’t know. As I was carrying the heavy loads I pondered the weight of “ownership”, the obligation and responsibility to have “stuff”, and how what you own ends up owning you. Seeing it all piled into boxes gives me the urge to go truly back to the land and carry nothing but a bow, a knife, and a satchel. You can laugh, and you should. I do. Call me a romantic idealist. The ironic thing is, even though we’re setting out to lead a “simpler” and more self-sufficient life, we will need so much more to do so. The number of tools we’ve compiled in the past few months alone illustrates my point. The reason I mention this is because the idea of freedom is largely what’s propelled our dream, yet freedom, it seems, is not so black-and-white. I guess this doesn’t bother many people, but it kind of bothers me.
Our “big move” doesn’t feel as momentous as it seems like it should. Maybe it has something to do with our weekly trips down to the farm since May. It’s not like we made the move in one giant leap, after all. The farm has been a second residence for half a year.
What will we miss most about Auckland? Lots. It really is a great place, even to introverted hobbits like us. It may be noisy, it may be dirty, but it’s beautiful in its own way, and its convenience and entertainment is pervasive. Most of all, of course, we will miss the people. Our people. We’ve never really felt at home in Auckland, either of us, but it’s still emotional leaving the city we’ve both spent most of our lives. Our families are there, our friends are there, and so many memories are woven into its urban expanse. We met and fell in love in the heart of that metropolis. For all these reasons and more, it will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Personally, and somewhat ironically, an aspect of Auckland that I will miss most is Cornwall Park. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, Cornwall Park/One Tree Hill is a massive public green space and farm smack-bang in the centre of Auckland. Because it was my surrogate farm before this one and kept me sane over the preceding years, I feel it at least deserves an honourable mention. It’s a stunning place, dotted with towering fig, oak, kauri, sequoia, and many other hundred-year-old specimen trees which give it a distinctly English appeal. I visited it at least once a week, and sometimes daily since it was only a short bike ride away from where we lived. Being the site of an ancient Maori settlement (once the largest in NZ) and a prominent volcano, it is one of the most interesting and magical parks I’ve ever visited. Scratch away the dirt anywhere on its terraced banks and you will discover an archaeological trove of midden. The life of the park quickly became my main subject as a budding hobby-photographer.
Goodbye, Auckland… You and your inhabitants will be missed. But it isn’t goodbye forever. In fact, Char will be taking regular trips up for work meetings and I’ll probably tag along (until I’m chained to certain farm commitments, namely milking the cow). In the end Auckland’s only two-and-a-half hours away, so it’s no big deal. New Zealand is a pretty small place after all!
Although sadness at leaving the comforts and familiarities of the city will inevitably befall us from time to time, we are more than ready to begin our new lives in the country. We were ready a year ago. We’ve been on the farm for a whole week now, and it really is so blissful out here. Time flows differently. We’re both much more productive and generally at ease. We’re excited about our lives here on the farm; there are so many opportunities to be creative and to connect with nature. There’s a hell of a lot of hard work ahead, but the setting in which it will be done is all the assurance we need that it’ll be worth it. Here’s to the future of country-bumpkinism!