We are house sitting on an organic farm in Nelson, New Zealand. It is something we always wanted to experience and yet still are not sure how we arrived at this moment. Everything is so alive and yet time is suspended.
We had the honor of overlapping with the owners of Earth House before they left town. We went over how to mill fresh chicken feed, what to give the goats, and how to harvest certain gifts from the garden. As we followed the owners around the property, we picked up pieces of their wisdom like unearthed jewels, “that is the bell bird’s call, that is called kawakawa and it makes a great tea if you sing to the goats they might sing back.” On we traversed, up the hill and down, until we knew all that there was time to learn before we would be on our own.
We weren’t sure about cooking in their organic and pure kitchen. We were strangers just a day before and we didn’t want to make the wrong move, rustling our plastic bags full of processed bread and preservative-filled peanut butter and jelly we had purchased at the only store open over the holiday weekend. We felt a bit ashamed by the amount of packaging around our food, our store-bought water, and our barely green thumbs.
We shared a meal together the night before the owners left. Everything on the table was from the garden and lovingly harvested and prepared by them, served in the most beautiful wooden bowls. It became clear to us, as we dined together, that this house and property is full of the passion of these two individuals that are so clearly aligned with their values they transcend the judgment of others. What mattered was not for us to align with their values necessarily, but for us to have the courage to maintain alignment with our own. It was only when we steadied our feet beneath us that the real exchange began. We learned while sitting around the hand-hewn wooden table, that we had a lot in common, although those common threads manifested very different realities. It was then that we knew they trusted us as stewards of all they had built. What we didn’t know was that the coming weeks would connect us to each other, animals large and small, and our food in a way we had never before experienced.
Each evening, as the autumn chill settles in the valley, the crickets take up their lullaby. The kids tuck the animals into sleep and check the water monitor to see if enough solar heat accumulated for hot showers. I program the washing machine to go on in the middle of the night to conserve energy, and in the morning a gentle birdsong brings us into the day. Somewhere between finding a lonely, ripe strawberry on the vine, harvesting, and cooking for a family of five, we explore Abel Tasman National Park and the vibrant city of Nelson. Most nights, as the clay brick walls hold the sun’s radiance hours after it sets, we sit around the kitchen table playing cards and doing puzzles, surrounded by silence and each other.
It is hard to point to one moment or one aspect of this experience that put us back into alignment with what matters most to us. It was more of a gradual surging of something that was a long time coming. An awakening illuminated by Sirius and Canis Major, new stellar points of reference for a never-ending journey.