‘Twas the first night of winter
and all through the south,
not one person had feeling
in ears, toes or mouth.
With shrivelled appendage
a shag was unlikely,
but the chill in the air
makes Aunt Gaye less unsightly.
Eleven toes all bundled
up in my onesie,
I pluck on my banjo
‘til sleep makes me clumsy.
Then with a yawn,
I settle for bed
with nought but sweet silence
to clutter my head.
Although not exclusively the domain of New Zealand, one of the great things about this place is the small towns. Even though it’s fun to mess with people who know no better, Aotearoa is not all grass skirts, inbreeding, sheep and gumboots. There are a few notable cities too, but “meh” is the first word that springs to mind when I think of them. On the world stage, they’re nothing to write home (or blog) about. This blog is all about small-town New Zealand.
The best thing is the diversity you get among those who choose to make these places home. Whether it be for seasonal work or for the whole of their lives, people tend live less to a formula at the margins. Here in Motueka for example, you have people living in shanty towns put together purely to house fruit pickers at harvest season living right down the road from the multi-millionaire owners of one of the country’s largest produce and seafood companies.
Furthermore, there are people choosing alternative option for housing just like I am. I ran into one guy living in a landlocked boat. His trimaran may have its floats detached, but it is perfectly seaworthy and set to be returned to its natural habitat once he’s done a few touch-ups. Until then, he enjoys the quiet of farm life in a simple and compact housing alternative.
There are also several house trucks, a couple of converted buses, and the odd permanent caravan or shipping container home. Many of whom are living in intentional communities like Riverside (mentioned in my previous blog), the Hari Krshna community or their own sustainable living alternatives.
The openness to alternative living exists alongside alternative options for dying too. Living Legacies (Check out http://livinglegacies.co.nz/ for more info. You’re bound to die after all.) was New Zealand’s first eco-funeral service and is based right here in Motueka. I didn’t realise they existed. Yet, apparently they do. This is something I am especially rapt about, as it has long been my wish to have very specific burial arrangements, which I previously thought to be illegal. Picture this:
Burial under an apple tree with several varieties of apples grafted to it, in order to provide fruit year-round. My remains to be buried in a biodegradable container, allowing them to nourish the growing tree. Finally, a sculpted zombie hand sticking out from beneath the ground holding a sign saying “See, I told you I was sick”.
On further consultation with Living Legacies, these particular arrangements technically still ARE illegal, but only because one can currently only be buried under native trees in a natural burial park. And apparently zombie hands are not considered natural… yet… so that may also not be allowed. Still, it’s encouraging that we’re halfway there. Perhaps it’ll all be sorted by the time I croak.
Along with alternative and/or rural living comes an openness about technology. It could be called an experimental mind set, resourcefulness, creative solutions or the “number eight wire” mentality.
One such engineering genius, is to be found at the local farmer’s market every Sunday. His claim to fame is guitars made from hubcaps along with random, assorted knickknacks.
He is only one of the many colourful characters who make up this wonderfully community-centred event. Others include all the fundraisers for the new local pool and the vibrant local amateur theatre scene. It would be easy to see the market as a mere place of sales, but it’s really a meeting place about the preservation of local trade and community spirit, which is so often lost in larger centres. It is also a place to find wonderful things like this book: Wizardology
Perhaps the allure of such a beautifully unique oddity escapes those who are more ‘grown-up’ than I. But for me, this thing is awesome. With all its flaps and feathers; gemstones and slides; moving part and even miniature books, I can’t wait to show it to my nieces and nephews. It’s everything an outstanding kid’s book/wizard manual should be.
In closing “All hail small town goodness”. Now I’m off to catch my wife, stick her back legs in me gumboots, grab her by the wool and make sweet love. Night all.