I didn't realise that by growing a handful of veggies in an urban backyard that I would be lead to where I am today, both in a physically and metaphysical sense. Simply by planting some seeds in a patch of city soil I embarked on a journey of discovery, education and experience. Initially my aims where driven by a mix of health, guilt, ethics, environment, and that romantic notion of 'living off the land'. All of these reasons for change remain interrelated and very much connected to one other.
I've now been living back 'out bush' for a number of years now, and have no intention of moving back to an urban environment. I like it out here too much. I like the big sky, the unobstructed views and the quiet darkness of evening. I like my lush food garden, I like the rabbits and ducks in the paddock, I like my productive hen house and I like the freedom to walk outside with no one peering over the fence. But it is only a rental, and it all has to go. My garden will be gone soon, but I will rebuild, somewhere. I don't want to dwell on that heartbreak, I want to focus on what's beautiful, and that's the lifestyle I'm fortunate to be able to embrace.
Lifestyle is an interesting phenomenon. That we even get to choose a lifestyle is a luxury that poorer cultures or people living with conflict do not have. With that in mind, I appreciate my freedom of choice a great deal. I chose a lifestyle with less fiscal security, instead opting for experience, quality and an increased level of health when compared to my old life. I take pleasure in the freshness of the garden food, the uniqueness of wild fare, the seasonality of forgeable items.
We live fairly normal lives, but In regards to food and chores, we're not that dissimilar to a family living rural 100 years ago. In fact we're not much different to a rural Mediterranean family, in that we enjoy fresh seasonal produce, some local farmed and wild food, all of which I have to work for directly or indirectly.
Along the way to 'here' I've recorded many fond memories, many of them relating to food I've produced. Memories such as biting into a crisp sugar snap pea straight off the vine from my backyard, or the juice of a sun warmed tomato exploding in my mouth. Munching my first home grown asparagus or opening the jar of my first attempt of pickled jalapeño. I remember the first slice of home cured jamon years ago, it was a full 12 months in the making, even better was the initial success of my very first experiment with chorizo a few years back. Not only was it the enjoyment of the flavours and textures, but most importantly is the joy of accomplishment, of being useful to oneself, and for the family.
I don't believe that everyone needs to grow their own food or hunt animals or even prance around the forest with a basket of foraged treats. I do think many of our food woes can be improved with more mindful consumer choices, but for those of us with the inclination, willingness for some work, a patch of soil and the time, I can't recommend this approach to living enough.
This lifestyle has tought me so much. It's changed me in many ways. My entire value system has been flipped upside down, which directly influences other facets of my life. I consume less, I want for less, I value hard waring, practical, reliable, long lasting over design and fashion. I'm excited by small backyard victories, cooking success's and the love for true seasonality of the food that fuels my family. A simple frittata of home grown produce is more celebrated than the expensive gourmet food I once ate at classy restaurants. There is an excitement when a food ingredient returns back in our lives, a floret of broccoli, a pod of peas or the crisp heat of a summer chili. We follow the annual cycle of food and it enriches our lives.
Embracing this lifestyle has one down side. The deeper I go into this beautiful peasant, natural, self sufficient, hippy, practiculture living, the less I can relate to my old world. I used to love to consume, to get what ever I wanted, even though I didn't need it. Electrical items, clothes, gadgets and general stuff that filled my house, but I did not use. It's not that I now live in a cave, wearing animal skins, instead I've just managed to embrace an approach that involves less. Less stuff, less baggage instead more focus on high value experiences and quality of living.
I don't have all the answers. I do love living this way though, and as much as I'd like to see more people embrace it, I acknowledge that it isn't everyones cup of tea. Even when it comes to an individuals quality of health, it's often not until something bad happens that major changes are made to lifestyle choices. Even when we know what we are doing is bad for us, or the planet, we continue the behaviour (case in point, the current western lifestyle). We are definitely an interesting species. On that note, before I get too political, I'll go pop on the kettle for a herbal tea. How things have changed.