People live in inspiring ways, all around us. Ways that are simple, rich with meaning, and that defy the cultural assumption of project home bliss and its accompanying mortgage shackles.
A friend’s family have a secret hideaway of a home down south, in a glade by a river. It’s been home to their family for over thirty years. What began as a few simple hand-built structures grew to encompass a large vegetable garden, orchard and tofu press. It’s only accessible on foot by fording the river, or to a brave soul behind the wheel of a 4WD.
Through a bamboo forest Ang Lee would be proud of, you stumble upon a yurt with skylights made of secondhand windows. The sleeping quarters are illuminated by a spectacular mosaic bottle wall. It’s a mermaid’s den, all sea-smoothed and gleaming. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to grow up here.
The chickens root around in the enormous orchard, thick with apples, pears and figs. The vegetable garden is filled with swathes of parsley, lettuce and greens.
Over time, the original vision has expanded into a sturdier mud brick home, lovingly and simply built. Kangaroos and a plethora of birds don’t seem to mind the quiet intrusion. Yet the original structures remain, a kind of homage to the extreme initial simplicity that came with living off the land.
It’s where I spent last weekend, though I promptly passed out with sickness. I slept as my friends took a break from busy city lives and instead read in the sun, foraged in the vegetable garden and cooked – all without a worry for their watches. They also made me endless cups of tea and hugs, and cooked me meals of baby-food consistency (I seriously love you guys).
Thankfully, the antibiotics and pain medication just shy of opiates is kicking in and I feel more like myself. I can’t wait until next time. Though fevered and unwell, I could’t help but feel the pull of this extraordinary place. My dream is to live like this someday, in my own little place in the forest. ‘Til then, the caravan isn’t half bad.