We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children
(Native American proverb).

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Why would you leave The Coast?

My love for country living began as a child, growing up in the Blue Mountains. We had chooks (far too many for our own needs) a couple of jersey cows, goats at one time, a couple of sheep we inherited from Uncle Kevin in Glenn Innes, plenty of fruit trees and a vege patch. Sunday was work day on the small acreage my father decided to call Tallowood Farm, and barely a weekend went by when we didn't spend much of our time walking the paddocks to pull out fireweed or pattersons curse, sitting by the creek when it ran, chasing then catching and riding the sheep (easy to do when their fleece is long and you're a 10 year old boy), digging manure, or the garden or chasing a wayward sheep out of the living room where their favourite dish was mum's ornamental indoor plants. There was lots of hard work, but so much joy when looking back.

These memories are not all rose tinted as anyone growing up outside of suburbia would know, but they are ones that I would wish for my children. There were bushfires, droughts, floods (actually, I liked the floods as a kid - no school!), fetching wayward goats who seem to be able to escape through the smallest hole in a fence... But on balance, it is amazing how easy it is to remember the good times, and forget the tough times. This week our books are packed away ready for our move, so we have resorted to recounting stories from our childhood for our two boys at bed time. They sit transfixed by the tales of coming off horses or motorbikes, getting hit by cars or cows, chasing sheep out of the house, etc... and I cannot help but wonder what stories they will tell to their kids.

Fortunately I found in my wife a kindred spirit and we have been working, sometimes harder than others, at achieving the goal of a tree change for our own family. However it has not been the same dream all the time. We initially thought the Hunter Valley would be our ideal home; a brief thought for the Yarra Valley and Tasmania; the Southern Highlands when we felt rich enough, or a scrubby block waiting to be discovered in the Wollombi valley when we weren't. Sometimes we envisaged a grand residence, complete with artist studio and gallery space, while others we saw a fully self sufficient, environmentally sustainable cottage made out of mud brick, rammed earth or straw bales. The binding factors were the ones mentioned in my last post, and the memories that can only be created in rural settings.

Philosophically speaking, our world view sees the western culture as far too materialistic and consumer driven, and with all the symptoms of Oliver James' Affluenza surrounding us, we have a great yearning to leave the ease of that lifestyle for the closer connections with the earth, regardless of how difficult that may be at times. There seems to be a greater emphasis on community and simpler, slower living; sharing our excess in the good times, and supporting each other in the bad; the muse of poets, musicians and artists is often adversity where it inspires creativity, ingenuity and simpler pleasures; and finally there's the food... well, need we justify being closer to our food sources?

In short, and to answer the question, if the coast could provided all this, maybe we wouldn't leave... but what an exciting journey it will be stepping outside our comfort zone.


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