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Marshmallows and Woodsmoke


Our family recently took a big step on the path to living a more intentional life by purchasing a small piece of land in an out of the way town in the south of New Zealand. Our long term intention is to build an off the grid lifestyle where we can enjoy a simpler life, close to nature and where our kids can experience some of the same things we did growing up in low tech, behind the times, 1980s New Zealand.

By doing this we have temporarily made our life busier. Our section has no power, no water and no plumbing. It’s just us and a four berth 1970s caravan with a chemical toilet in a tent outside.

It’s hard work and nothing is simple. To wash the dishes we have to boil the kettle first, meals are as basic as possible and right now we have no refrigeration so milk in my cup of tea has become a bit of a luxury.

Soon, we hope we will have some power to the section so that we can have some heating when winter comes. It gets really cold in the southern part of New Zealand in winter.

So far, most of the time we have spent on our new piece of land has been making it livable and working out just how much water four people and a dog require each twenty four hours. Now that’s a real eye opener and makes me think about how terribly hard it must be to live in a place where water is truly scarce, not a ten minute trip up the road to the local potable water supply.

Despite all the hard work, this weekend just gone we finally got a taste of the lifestyle we have been working towards. As a family, we lit our little fire in our firepit and roasted marshmallows on sticks, dodging the woodsmoke that seemed intent on following us around wherever we moved. Seeing my four year experience the taste of a properly charred and melting marshmallow done over an open fire for the first time in her life will be a priceless memory. My nine year old daughter, while more experienced in the toasting of marshmallows, saw her mother in a whole new light when I casually whipped out my twenty-five year old pocket knife to expertly whittle points onto the sticks.

The girls spent the weekend playing in and leaping off the trailer we used to transport part of a shed we are building to store a few things. They got muddy, ate one vegetable in three days and didn’t wash more than their faces for more days than I care to admit to.

It was perfect.

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