My general stance on adding conveniences into our lives in the form of objects huddles around the idea that most times, we can do without. Partly, this stems from the need to keep items in the home to a minimum, for my sanity’s sake, but also, from a grade-A-neat-freak’s wish to keep the house always tidy, without doing the work frequently. Luckily, my upbringing has trained me well to do without. Mum’s always got some saying or other to motivate my siblings and I to toughen the skin, and push through with what we were given to get one thing or another accomplished. Comforts were not exactly at the fore-front of her mind, what with starving children back home from the country whence we came. We can survive a little cold water shower mid-California-winter. We can survive yet another round of rice and beans for dinner (and lunch). We’ve triumphed through 90-degree summer days without air-conditioning, and warmed each other with smiles instead of heaters in the cold winter months.
But I was shocked at how miserably I fared when Mike and I decided to step off the grid and do a three day hike through farmlands in New Zealand. Mostly, I blame the weather for being wet, rainy, windy, and cold. Hiking uphill to an elevation of 700 meters within 6 kilometers was hard enough without the mud, tall wet-grass, cow and sheep manure, and slippery boulders. Interestingly, what I couldn’t mentally overcome was knowing that we were going to end our hikes in really, reaaaalllllyyy old buildings, some lacking electricity, or indoor toilets for that matter. One of the farm homes that we stayed at was so old that it was actually the THIRD home ever erected by a European in New Zealand. Cobwebby doorways and a two minute trek to an outdoor porta-potty was what I had to look forward to mid-hike. In retrospect, it really wasn’t that bad. In fact, there were some joys that I really miss, now that I’ve returned to the year 2019.
On the third night of our three-day trek, we stayed at a place without electricity. I didn’t realize then but I do now, that it was a joyously pleasant stay. Showering outdoors facing a tree trunk was an exhilarating experience, once I got used to ignoring the large green spider near my foot. Other hikers took pleasure in taking an outdoor bath, warming their water by lighting a fire underneath the tub! Sitting on a wooden plank was mandatory, lest you burn your bum on the hot porcelain above the open flame. Joint efforts in keeping the cabin warm by stuffing acorns, newspapers and just the right-sized log in the stove were joyous. Cooking our meals and dining as a “family” by candle light made our relations all the more special. Of all those memories, it was the candlesticks that got me. That simple comfort was what I have the fondest memory of.
When I was little and still residing in the Philippines, thunderstorms were a regular occurrence. Which meant that electricity frequently failed us. Much childhood-reading and dinner-making was done by candle light. I have memories of quiet nights of story-telling as well as rambunctious nights of pretend talent shows, all lighted by a yellow, flickering glow.
Traveling to Banks Peninsula was like time travel. Not only did the way of life change, like wringing out clothes with a mechanical machine, or hanging them up on logs above our heads, raised via a pulley system and thus making one feel like you were living in the pre-Industrial era. But also, memories that I haven’t thought of in a long while have re-surfaced. Those of my mom sitting in a bathtub and soaking in some peace and rest, reading her book by a single flame. Of moments kneeling on cement floors, praying the rosary in its entirety during times of religious holiday. Of making hand puppets on a blank white wall and giggling uncontrollably. Of trying to do homework before bed-time, when it’s taken more than an afternoon to complete. Do all children have such memories of candle light?
So yes, now that I am back, once again surrounded by modern day commodities, I am feeling a little nostalgic of the candle sticks that we burned in that isolated place. Isn’t it weird, the things that linger? And while I am all for doing without modern conveniences, I’m now of the mind that I can’t do without a candelabra and candle sticks in my home. Should we use limiting electricity as an excuse? If I add this one thing in my life, does occasionally ridding the self of light bulb usage make it okay? I can tell I’m sounding too desperate in justifying this. Nevertheless, obsessing over candle holders for the moment. While vintage stores will probably give me the best (and most sustainable) finds, here are a few new age ones that are also attractive.
More practically, anyone got any candelabras they’d like to de-clutter? Preferably from Grandma, brownie points for brass? I’m all ears (and heart eyes)!