We’ve been back in New Zealand for one week now. Christchurch welcomed us with open arms: the weather the first few days was utterly gorgeous. Spring has hit and the gardens are full of camelia, hydrangea, rhododendrons, and a myriad of other blooms; the birds are chirping; the sky is blue. Our yard is bursting with any array of colorful blossoms; of plants which I don’t-yet-know-the-names-of but hope to find out in my “Know Your Plants” workshop which started on the eve of our arrival.

On our first day back was a whirlwind of activity with us trying to get our car fixed (battery dead from not driving it for four months), stocking up on food, and then rushing off to our first horticulture class of the season (Bruce is taking Organic Horticulture). It felt great to be back and in the house; I was grinning from ear to ear. It also helped that our friends were already contacting us to get together and one dropped off a floral bouquet from her garden to welcome us home.

We found out on Thursday that we’d both gotten into the “Earth & Straw Bale Building” workshop to be held Sat/Sun from 9:30-4:00. This turned out to be a great workshop and I’ll write more in a separate post.

It’s been a busy first week back just trying to settle in to the house — digging through boxes and unpacking and attempting to create a homey environment. After seven months of living out of two suitcases a piece, it’s been fun to dig out my clothes, shoes, bags, jackets, etc. It’s like shopping all over again but without the expense.

Today is my birthday and I’m forty-three.

I started to get back into my head again as I usually do when significant markers loom before me. Over the past few days I’ve experienced a wide swing of emotions ranging from happiness and calmness to utter fear and terror. The latter came about in the workshop as the instructor was discussing the pros and cons of the various building methods, with one of the cons being TIME. It can take years to build an earth or straw bale house and thoughts came pouring into my head about the big life project Bruce & I are envisioning with wanting to be on acres and acres of land, in the country, building a retreat center. Am I crazy? Am I capable of doing such a thing of which I know very little about? What am I doing? As we talked about all the things that one needs to think about when building a home, I felt my head spinning. I hate precision. The thought of living in a little caravan without all the comforts of life while we build a big house did not seem appealing. What have I done? That damned fear bug reared it’s ugly head and needed to be squashed down. The rational side of me knows that fear is a normal emotion when faced with the unknown. A total unknown future is wide open for us right now, available to create from it what we want. I worry about whether we will have the stamina to pursue the vision, to be able to stick it out, to push ourselves way over the comfort zone. It’s ok to be afraid as long as it doesn’t paralyze you. I know this. We start with baby steps like creating our garden here in Christchurch and going to classes and meeting people who can give us guidance. And we try to remember to have fun along the way.

What I also know is that I need to focus on balance. It’s something I’ve been working on and struggling with for years. Balance:

Stillness vs Motion
Togetherness vs Oneness
Computer vs Nature
Work vs Play

As we mulled about on tea break while at the workshop, I perused the flyers and advertisements hung on the walls and came across a multi-paragraph write-up on permaculture. The last paragraph really resonated with me and speaks to what I want to achieve in my lifetime. It’s the path I want to be on.

“If over your lifetime you only build a simple non-polluting home, grow your own food, repair and build up the soil, and care for natural fauna and flora, you will have lived a full creative and interesting life with great personal freedom, satisfaction, and autonomy.”

There’s plenty of work to be done, but today is about play. We’re off to the Honey Pot Café for a hollandaise-drenched brekky and then a trip out to the Banks Peninsula!

Forty-three, bring it on!