I would like to tell you a bit about where we are staying right now. We are staying with Al and Anita in a small beach town in New Zealand. They have 5 acres on the edge of the poorer part of their town. If there is a crime in this town, this is where the police go first. Al and Anita live in a housebus on their land. The toilets are outdoor and composting with buckets to empty. The shower is outside, the firebath is warmer or too hot when a fire is made. They have their bus, an extra housebus, a caravan, a couple of shipping containers connected by a roof, a small shed, a garage and our truck on the land. They make the housebus, caravan and shed available to whoever needs a place to live. The only legal structure on the site is the garage. Nobody complains about loud music or housebuses in this neighbourhood because nobody cares about their “property values”.
We love staying here. We can work on our truck and make a mess while we are doing it. Since we have been here we have ripped off part of our roof and Al helped us weld on a roof rim that won’t let the rain in. Lovely Al, motorbike riding, loud rock music playing, tattooed and bearded wildman that literally wouldn’t hurt a fly, opens his garage for some neighbours to fix their motorbikes and never questions giving generously. What an amazing man filled with generosity and love without judgement, without reserve.
Anita collects and shares. Lovely Anita who loves her neighbours without reserve in her own, more hippie, way. She won’t even kill a mouse who keeps her awake at night, while I buy small black traps that resemble tiny sharks to trap my unwanted pets. Who lets the spiders spin their webs in the corners of her home undisturbed. She has friends who have food to give away. She collects it and gives it out to others who need it and those who know others who need food so everyone knows the joy of giving. There is leftover bread and cakes from the cafe, produce and meat from the organic grocery, apples and limes and walnuts from local farmers, fejoas from a neighbour. All is here, literally spread out on a table of plenty under the shelter between the two containers for all to share in. You need milk? There is a cow that needs milking, just sign up for a day to milk the cow and share in the table of plenty. As you drink your tea at the table in the sun the dog and the cat and the chicken and the pig wander around your feet. On another day local women and children gather to felt hats from the wool of the sheep in the paddock. Another day we are making soap, or cheese. Anita and her nephew are drying apples in her dehydrator or juicing some overipe fruit. Anita teaches and shares, gives from her table of plenty for all to enjoy without agenda, without judgement, there is abundance. Not much money seems to move around as this place appears to mainly be run on love and a gift economy. Many would consider Anita a freegan as she can’t remember when she last bought food from a grocery store. When we think about needing beets for dying wool we don’t go to the shops she thinks about planting some in the garden. What an amazing woman filled with generosity and love without judgement, without reserve.
Al and Anita think they are just normal people doing what anyone would do. Imagine a world in which they were just normal people. Where everyone gave like this. Thank you, Al and Anita you have blessed us beyond measure. You have fed our bodies and our hearts. You have given us refuge and love. We are grateful.
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