The joys of puttering

Puttering renews the soul and inspires creativity.

Have you noticed? Puttering has almost disappeared from modern life. There was a time when it was permissible to say, "I'm just going to stay home today and putter." And there you were, snug and smug, puttering around your house all day. But a whole generation is growing up unaware of the joys of puttering. From kindergarten on, children are prejudiced against puttering by the feelings of guilt our culture heaps upon anyone who is not constantly accomplishing, producing, excelling, endeavoring, earning, competing or winning. Actually, not one of those words matters a whit while one putters. The world's problems pale; the foibles and follies of the human race are forgotten.

Putterers come in all sizes, shapes, ages, and genders, but they all share the ability to shift their thoughts into neutral and open their minds to all sorts of unexpected, amazing ideas.

Some of the favorite activities of the putterer are:

1. Rearranging the furniture. For the putterer, the ultimate joy lies in shoving furniture around a room, resulting in a totally different look. "I think I'll move the table to the corner, drape it with Grandma's antique quilt, and top it with a pot of ivy." The result is feeling the joy of surprise when the room is transformed.

2. Decorating the mantle. A putterer often spends happy hours turning the mantle into a celebration. Should the blue transferware pitcher go to the right or the left of the brass candlestick? Should the antique clock be centered or off center? Would a caravan of old matchbox cars across the mantle look nostalgic and festive? With each change, the putterer must stand back and study the look of it.

3. Rearranging the contents of the garage. A putterer can while away a happy day tidying and transforming the garage into a showplace of the miscellaneous. The joy of aligning containers of car wax and windshield wiper fluid, of positioning the hammers and pliers, of arranging the saws and the shears, of hanging the hoe and the spade – these are the joys of one who putters from morning till night out there in happy solitude.

4. Sprucing up the backyard. A putterer loves to dig a dandelion, transplant a daisy, stir the compost heap, sweep the sidewalk, deadhead the blossoms, stack a woodpile. Then, after puttering all day, a putterer likes to stroll slowly about the yard several times to inspect minute details and admire the results of his puttering.

5. Embellishing the front porch. You can often spot the home of a putterer by simply driving around your neighborhood. It is as though the putterer's joie de vivre has burst forth onto the porch. Perhaps an old chair with a pot of pansies on it appears in the spring or an accumulation of gourds and pumpkins and Indian corn are visible in the fall. During the winter holidays, a putterer's porch becomes a festive celebration for all to enjoy.

Everyone deserves a day to putter. It's good for the soul. So if you are a putterer, take pride in your puttering. Wonders are wrought by putterers. Putterers march to a different drummer; they putter to their own poetic patterns. They also serve who pause to putter.

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