For the past six weeks, we have been living and working on an apple orchard in Hastings, New Zealand. Our life is anything but glamourous. It’s half organized, half disaster and oftentimes a little too dirty for my liking. But it’s simple, and simple is good. 

All of our material belongings fit into our 22 sq. ft. station wagon and we tend to spend most of the day outdoors. We see the moon as it’s rising over the apple trees, we feel the first hint of stormy weather when the wind picks up and we have one too many flies to keep us company. 

Our backbreaking days on the orchard are balanced by laughter-filled evenings with friends. When the hot sun has cooked us to the core, when our fingertips are starting to crack and we haven’t even picked the minimum 8.5 bins in a day, we come home to frozen popsicles, locally brewed beer and a picnic table filled with smiles. It’s simple living at it’s best. 

When we first signed up to stay at the orchard I was nervous. I easily get annoyed with a messy kitchen, I get grossed out by a dirty shower and something about me just  is not  was not good at sharing food. I don’t know what changed me. I don’t know if it was these particular 12 individuals or if I was bound to change no matter the company, but I can wholeheartedly tell you that I now find joy sharing my food, I don’t mind a messy kitchen when it’s filled with friends and it’s easy to clean a dirty shower with nothing but soap and a little elbow grease.

I can now understand why communal living (aka communes) was such a trend in the 70s. With the right group of people, communal living can be the perfect life. There’s always someone around to listen to your thoughts, lend you some chili powder or help you clean the bathroom. This is your warning, if I suddenly disappear in the next couple of years, there’s no need to worry, I’m probably just living happily on a commune.

I wish our orchard bliss could last forever, but nothing gold can stay. We have now moved south to Wellington, where Chase has accepted a fantastic position at the Weta Workshop. He will be creating and painting props for Hollywood’s hottest, upcoming films. His projects are so top secret that he can’t even disclose the name of the lead actor to his lovely girlfriend.

He has found his dream job and has made it his real job, I’m so proud of him.


3 thoughts on “Living Happily Ever Orchard

  1. Wonderful memories, beautiful pictures. People working together, on a mutually agreed to outcome must make life more cohesive. A wonderful way to learn we are all of the same source.
    Happy for discoveries together. You are a great team.

  2. Great post, Dana! Loved the title. Communes, eh? We’ll have to talk one day on this particular topic. . .
    And congrats to Chase. Cannot wait to hear about this new leg of your Grand Adventure.

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