“You can’t eat scenery.” was a phrase David and I heard a few times when we were house hunting. We’d be chatting to a local about how beautiful the area was and out would come this pragmatic statement. I knew what they meant. There was not much employment in the area or opportunities for young people. Forestry and orchards, the industries that many people in the Huon Valley had relied on for generations were winding down. In the 1990s so many people left the district that houses were at giveaway prices.
Before settling on the Huon Valley David and I travelled round the state. We loved the west coast towns of Strahan and Queenstown and houses there were even cheaper but apart from mining and the emerging tourist industry there was little work there and it was half a days drive from Hobart or Launceston over bad roads. Even I knew it would be impractical to live there.
I am a practical person, so people tell me, but for me it is as necessary to have attractive surroundings as it is to have access to shops and services. That is why I prefer older houses to new ones. I find many modern styles stark and unattractive. I’m drawn to the houses with character, they don’t have to be beautiful as long as they are quirky or even ugly in an interesting way. A new, modern house with neutral colours, and little clutter would, I have no doubt, be easier to take care of but I wouldn’t find it aesthetically pleasing to live in until I’d filled it up with colours and things that were attractive to my eyes.
I would go as far as to say that living in an ugly neighbourhood would depress me greatly. I’ve seen them, suburbs with rows of houses with concrete everywhere and not a garden or even a tree to soften the view or big, square apartments that are built so close together that you could shake hands with your neighbour from inside your house if the windows actually opened.
It’s no secret to anyone that has ever read this blog how much I love Tasmania and in particular this little corner of it. When I get on the bus to go to or from Hobart just looking out the window at the views uplifts me, even during my worst journeys when David was in hospital.
So no, you can’t eat scenery but for me aesthetics are a necessity of life.