As the days slowly become shorter and cooler, our family house gets cosier. Pacha and Yani snuggle on the rug in the morning as the sun comes in from the north. It’s comfortable sitting on Ollie’s warm bare back, riding in the forest, not needing hats to protect us from the sun. We start to collect some firewood for the few days that it gets cold enough to light up our pot-belly stove, cooking soup and toasting marshmallows over the embers).

Building projects have slowed down a little, and the garden needs attention. The possums and wallabies have taken a liking to all the greenery - with the sweet potatoes, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes and capsicum eaten up over two nights. Luckily they can't reach the big bunch of bananas, that I have protected from the hungry fruit bats! I must build an enclosure to protect our vegie garden food source!

Recently our good friends visited us for a couple of days. I first met Karen in Kanazawa, Japan, where she had started a café/bar: 'Offshore'. She was a young Australian woman, not speaking any Japanese, who didn’t pay much attention to the people who said it was ‘impossible’ to do what she was doing. She managed to find a way to make it work - bringing a little ray of Australian warmth and sunshine into Kanazawa. Sometimes I would sing at her café/bar and once I even looked after the cafe while she was away for a week – a totally new experience! While Karen is not what you would normally call an activist – I think we have a lot in common in our general attitude to life; anything is possible if you put your mind/heart to it and stay positive. Experiences, relationships and finding meaning in life is more important than the accumulation of wealth – and that approach is something she shares with her family as well.

Now Karen lives in a ‘Heidi’ village in the Austrian Alps with her husband and children, in the house his Father built with his own hands from the trees carefully harvested from the mountain. It is a small, traditional community with age-old customs and habits, formed from watching and learning from the environment they live in. It seems to be a very Slow life, self-sufficient in many ways, but under threat from outside pressures. It is the ‘thinking’ that is changing – short-term ‘now’ culture rather than long term care to ensure the children and their children will be able to maintain this lifestyle and care for the environment that has sustained them. Land that was held as a collective for the whole community, is now beginning to be cut up and sold off. Traditional houses are left to disintegrate through neglect, while people look for modern convenience. It reminds me a great deal of ‘inaka’ in Japan. Karen and her husband plan to ‘rescue’ one of these old houses and restore it, redesigning it to become more energy efficient and sustainable, rather than tearing it down to build something new.

What seems to be the greatest challenge for me right now, is introducing new ideas without threatening other people’s established routines and systems. I am coming across entrenched, conformist views embedded in the school system and struggle to find ways to gently, positively and safely promote more earth friendly ways of thinking and behaving. The only way I feel I can send my children to a conventional, public school, is if I am involved and supporting the children in new ways of thinking. Now my friend Tina and I have taken on the school choir, along with the school food gardens, because if we didn’t do this, these activities wouldn’t be available for the kids.

Sometimes it seems like too much – but if not me: who? If not now: when?

For Biodiversity Day



パチャとヤニは昨日の朝、両手いっぱいの手作りの母の日のカードを持って私を起こしました。パチャは「母の日の1日、奴隷になります」という一言メッセージを書いていました。なんということ! 娘は私が一番欲しいものは奴隷だと考えているのかしら? 彼女は誰かが自分の奴隷となることを夢見ているのかしら?他人をコントロールしたり、支配したりすることは、果たして人間の本質なのでしょうか。

とにかく、私にとって、母の日はいつも厄介です。 いまだに、人々がより多くのものを買うようけしかける日でもあるからです。(平和と友好の誓いとして始まったものであるらしいのですが)。まるであなたが買物に費やす金額が、相手への愛の深さを証明するかのように。復活祭、クリスマス、ハロウィーン・・・。私たちはたくさんの「買物をする日」に囲まれています。こういう日がやってくると、私はとげとげした気分になります。








Pacha and Yani woke me yesterday morning with an armful of handmade Mother’s
day cards. Pacha wrote a note saying that she would ‘be my slave’ for the
day…My gosh – is that what she thinks I want the most? Is that what she
herself dreams of - having someone as her 'slave'? Is the human condition
really that geared to controlling and dominating others?

Anyway, Mother’s Day is always hard for me. It is yet another day that
encourages people to buy more stuff (even though it apparently started as a
declaration of Peace and Goodwill). As though the amount of money you spend
correlates to the love you have for someone. It makes me feel more cynical.
Like all the other ‘buy more stuff days’ like Easter, Christmas, Halloween –
I feel generally confused and a little bit grumpy and try to keep convincing
myself (and my children) with the mantra: ‘it’s all about celebration, it’s
all about family, it’s all about community’. There is so much we need to
reinvent in our culture.

But, since I am the re-elected president of the school P and C, I was
obligated to organise a Mother’s Day Stall, so kids could buy things to give
to their Mothers. I came up with a slogan: ‘Love your Mother, Love the
Earth, Love your Self’ – but didn’t have the courage to put it on a banner
for the stall. There were already rumblings of disapproval (not openly
declared) among some of the parents about using ‘recycled’ gifts (“I don’t
want my kids to buy ‘old’ stuff”). We did the best we could do, preparing
potted plants as well, keeping the prices very low ($1), and setting up a
craft table to go along with the products.

Recently I feel like I am being constantly reminded that my ideas are too
new, innovative and radical for mainstream society. It seems my experiences
and skills are a set back to ‘fitting in’; speaking other languages or
living in other countries regarded as somewhat suspicious. Just being who I
am; of free will and independent mind, asking questions, sharing thoughts,
challenging assumptions, encouraging positive change, seems to make some
people feel threatened. It doesn’t seem to matter that my deepest motivation
comes from love. Oh well, I can only be true to myself and continue on,
asking for humility and compassion to guide the way…

So, Pacha was my ‘slave’ for Mother’s day and Yani lasted for about half an
hour. We enjoyed another glorious day here with this lovely autumn weather,
taking Ollie the horse for a walk, visiting neighbours, picking up horse
manure (the kids sell it in bags on the roadside for pocket money) and
generally enjoying our slow life.