A summer of simplicity

BY: HAIYUN HE 

In August 2012, when people were bearing the heat of summer in the northern hemisphere, I was leisurely enjoying warm winter days at a remote organic farm in Australia. My days involved getting up early in the morning, taking a deep breath of the fresh air from the forest, eating with my lovely host family, pulling radishes out of the land, singing while peeling garlic, and spending time with young volunteers from other countries.

The reason why I chose to fly to another hemisphere to work as a farmer was because I really wanted to experience a different life from what I was used to. At that time, I was tired of the busy life in Hong Kong. Every day, I followed the footsteps of others, repeated the same routine and had no time to stop and smell the roses. I felt exhausted and even lost myself. I missed the simple happiness of life, so I decided to take a break and pursue it.

I found lots of organic farms in Australia through a website called “Help Exchange,” a cultural exchange program for traveling students to stay with local people and gain practical experience during their holidays. Eventually, I chose to stay at an organic farm run by an old couple in a small town.

After a nine-hour flight from Hong Kong to Sydney followed by a six hour train ride, we arrived at the remote town. John, the owner of the farm, picked us up at the small train station. After a 20 minute drive, we finally arrived to the farm, greeted warmly by John’s wife, Annette, and five young volunteers from Britain, Ireland and America. We enjoyed a family dinner together and chatted freely.

There were three unforgettable memories from my experience on the farm. First, John and Annette did not use mobile phones. When we asked for their mobile phone numbers before arrival, to my surprise, they answered that they only had a desk phone at home. I did not understand, until I arrived and found that the mobile signals did not allow us to use mobile phones at all. The second surprise was the lack of other people. For that whole week, I met no one else besides my “family” on the farm. Finally, we did not use any money during that period of time because there were no shops. Every day we just lived together, worked together, ate together and got the harvests from nature. It was like going back to a traditional society, or living on a commune. Everything was so simple.

We did very simple physical work every day. After work, I would sit in the fields, quietly watching the endless hills under the clear blue sky. From time to time, cattle and wallabies would run by.

I never thought life could be so simple. My week of simple living inspired me to keep peace of mind and live a simple life, no matter where I am in the future.