Time has stopped since my lover left. Literally. It’s been three weeks, and I still haven’t figured out how to set the grandfather clock in motion again. So it’s frozen at just after 7am, roughly when I dropped him off on the side of the road so he can hitch around the world for two years.

Two years! We were both soberly aware that anything could happen in two years. He might meet someone else. I might meet someone else. He might not make it home. Yet this is a journey he needs to make, and it’s the right time in his life for him to do it. It’s not the right time for me to travel – I have a son in a great primary school with regular access visits to his father. So my sweetheart inducted me into the solar power system, the heat pump, the fire truck and the grandfather clock (well – he tried), packed his bags and left.

It’s an interesting experience to separate from someone when you are both still in love. The thing that makes this work, right now, is that we each have a complete sense of self. So physical separation is not dissolution of self.

I have spent the last few weeks just trying to keep up with the running of the farm, and parenting, and working, and travelling at least 1.5 hours every day to get to school & work and back. The days are growing shorter and I can barely make it home in time to start a fire and shut the chooks in before sundown.

I had planned to stay here on the farm, where I can grow vegies and I don’t have to pay rent. However, it’s 50km from my job and even further from my child’s school. The drain on my time and energy to drive every town day (up to 7 days a week!) and the knowledge that I’m burning fossil fuel for my basic travel is not a long-term solution for me. Plus… a man is not a plan.

I’m living here on a man’s property. Even though it has been a nourishing and deep relationship, and I have been welcomed to this place of sanctuary, I cannot count on this lasting forever. I once promised myself to a man for the rest of my life, and that didn’t work out. So I’m going to be pragmatic here and arrange for my life to be secure and thriving without depending on any one person.

Permaculture principles tell us to use every important element for several functions, and to design several functions for every key element. This also ties in really well with my NVC understanding that needs are not person-specific (gamechanger!). I’ll let you decide how that applies (for you) to social permaculture regarding sex. Sexual intimacy is generally something that most people expect their partner to exclusively satisfy. Even if we leave that notion unchallenged, it can be incredibly expansive to give ourselves permission to meet some our other needs outside of our primary relationship – for example: company, fun, support and learning.

My experience of living in community has reinforced my desire to exist within a network of people, rather than a fragile and isolated single-parent unit. Bill Mollison always said that the resilience of a system doesn’t correlate to the number of elements within the system, it depends on the number of connections between those elements. And this is even more true in social permaculture. You can be just as lonely in a bustling city as in a desert.

Gathering a tribe to me is another reason to move to town. I have resisted living in town until the last year or so, preferring the space to grow food and the buffer of larger blocks against noise, sprays, smoke, invasion of privacy, etc. I need to have my feet in the earth. However, I am coming to a point in my life where I want to contribute to community building, and be able to decrease my fossil-fuelled travel. The balance is shifting.


So I find myself at the turning point; several turning points! Goodbye my darling, safe travels, love you.


  1. How poetic of your grandfather clock to stop ticking on the day your partner left on his travels! I am currently contemplating whether to stay or go from my home of sixteen years. My darling husband died in April and my two sons and their partners moved in so we can grieve together. Time has passed and now the older son is talking of buying a house, and the younger has his own plans. I am welcome to move into the new house, and yet it’s hard to leave this one. My plan is to not make any quick decisions. There is no hurry so I shall just sit still for a while and see which way the wind blows. (Thanks for sharing this chapter of your life with us.)

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