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Careful What You Ask For, You Might Just Get It...

I hadn't really given it much thought before, but I was talking a friend through the first few months on this property where my full-time job was painter, plasterer and general renovator. She commented that while there was no doubt it was a pretty grueling mission to embark on, I would have surely enjoyed days listening to playlists, at high volume with no one's musical taste to please but my own. Actually no, I reflected on that time and even to my own surprise I realised that it wasn't until the final few weeks of the reno journey, that I even thought about getting my work rhythm on with a soundtrack for company.

Now this is strange for me, music is a huge part of my life and home never really feels like home unless there's at least some background melody. Spotify playlists are never far away and we love Base FM for it's eclectic mix and no commercial ads. But for almost four months straight I would go the whole day with only the sweeping of sand paper, scraping of plaster and the odd whirring of power tools.

Rewind a few months earlier and sleeping had become an issue for me. Usually a good friend with the Sandman, I think the urgency to start a new life, mixed with a natural fear of the unknown and the fact that we lived mere metres from a busy State Highway 1, had me tossing and turning. Many sleepless hours were spent thinking of what will be, forcing frustration away with positive visions of a new home, which on arrival, would immediately relieve any weight of a busy life. It would be a natural sanctuary, and it would be quiet.

So I guess without realising it I was cherishing the silence during that time and I do remember being enamoured with the subtle flow of our new surroundings. Taken with what visitors would experience when eventually they would come to escape in the environment I was creating. We're completely surrounded by native bush here, looking out across at least 140 acres of majestic DOC reserve and depending on the time of day, it can be airily quiet while other times it's a chorus of bird chatter, distant sheep bleating and chooks announcing their work. The rhythmic pulse of the sanctuary I was asking for, even now when I take a moment to stop and soak it in, the quiet can sometimes be disarming.
As I write this, we're just over a month away from our 2 year anniversary here. Our second winter was a lot wetter than I remember the first and come to think of it, the second summer also bought a number of pretty impressive downpours. High rainfall is innate to the Northland region and contributes greatly to the good growing conditions.

When the relocation of our life was still in the planning stages, we made a list titled 'Characteristics of our Land', then two headings, 'Needs' and 'Wants'. At this stage we didn't know where in the country we would settle, but we were pretty sure it would be north of Wellington. Because after 15 years in the 'coolest little Capital', the wayward weather finally got the best of us.

Over a glass of wine on one of those Friday evenings we created what was a property shopping list, with absolutely no barrier of price, no presumption of how, where or when we might fulfill this list. It was fun and little did we know at the time just how close we would come to ticking the boxes.
Now I often have trouble reading Joe's scrawl, especially when he's in the flow but this is the list. I'm pretty sure it was stuck to the fridge for a while after it was created but eventually it was 'filed'. And we didn't actually look at it again until we stumbled across it while unpacking one of the many boxes weeks after moving in.

You'll see the ticks and scores that were added as we sat on the floor of our new living area, realising what we had in our hands. The property shopping list, and on reflection there were some fairly specific requirements in the 'Needs' column. Home is now on 13 hectares, with both a running stream and a natural spring. At least 10 citrus trees greet you at the entrance and provide us with almost year-round fruit. Then the orchard of around 30 more trees which, in their early existence are already delivering more produce than we could ever dream of. We've got the two character cottages and while the vege patch wasn't already established, we've now got that sorted with our second straw bale garden on the go.

The 'Wants' column was the one that set silly grins on our faces, pretty aspirational to have included items like bush walks, a shop front and a thermal bore on this list, but to our amusement we were also able to tick 3 out of those 8 items.
It was also around the time that we created this list that I was working longer hours than I care to think about. Often up in the dark in an attempt to avoid the motorway standstill or the crowds on the early morning train (only to join the many others that were taking the same approach!). Arriving home after dark, using the 40 minute commute to consciously leave work at the office, striving to be 'present' when I arrived home - often failing. I'd slump down in front of Joe as he prepared dinner and look for enlightenment. "What's it all for?" I'd question. While we were better off financially, we were very time poor. Trapped in a cycle that created a dull ache in the pit of my stomach "Life is short, life is short..." was the mantra on repeat in the back of my mind.

Imagine if we worked these hours on our own thing? I remember the struggle to find any time for physical activity. Desk-bound most of the time, I would often say "I just want to end each day feeling physically spent, with the satisfaction of looking over a days work and witness a change in the land or surroundings. Knowing it's been another step firmly into our own future.
I've been thinking about this a lot recently, over those last few years in Wellington we spent most of our 'free time' dreaming, talking, even writing lists and drawing pictures. We made a conscious decision back then not to focus on how we would make our dreams reality but to stretch our imaginations, to see, feel and taste what our hearts desired.

I think of the times when alone, facing another 10 litre pot of paint, pushing through the resistance of a body tired from day after day of the same. At times feeling overwhelmed, letting the tears flow, then blinking through a watery canvas to feel a warm sensation of achievement take over. Or on the days when I've been dripping with sweat, heart pounding and muscles aching after a multi-hour lawn mowing session, the intoxicating pleasure of cut grass filling my senses. And now, as the season changes again, new spring blossoms burst open, showering skeleton trees in candy colour promise. I'm struck with the reality of just how much fruit will soon be weighing down those branches. But before succumbing to the panic of what exactly to do with it all when it arrives, I remind myself that these are all the things that I asked for.

It's exciting and bewildering to me that this is real. The universe must surely be connected in ways that are truly unexplainable. But I'm not to question and if anything, there are more chapters of this story to dream up, so you can be sure there's already another list on the fridge.