Spring Ahead Through Simplicity

When the phone rang today my son picked it up in bewilderment as if it was some futuristic communications device from Star Trek, listened intently for a second, and said, “Huh?”

This is in contrast to our neighbor’s children, who answer the phone crisply and flawlessly, as if they were auditioning for a part as an executive secretary, “Hello, this is Kate.” Then they proceed to communicate intelligently into the device and actually carry on a conversation with an adult.

Yes, the Gilmore’s seem to have fallen down on the job when it comes to training on technology, even if it is just 20th century technology, such as the modern zipper. We’ll re-double our efforts in this area, but I must say that I am proud to be among just 6.9% of Americans, as reported by the National Journal at the end of last year, who only have a landline and no cell phone. Can you believe so few of us fall into this antiquated category?

I prefer things that are real and come out of the earth, such as sticks, potatoes, and clean water. Kids can find all kinds of things to do with things that weren’t manufactured and shrink wrapped in plastic. Just this past weekend my son and a friend must have moved 2,000 pounds of snow in a herculean effort to dig a massive fort that spans most of our yard, contains ramparts over 4 feet high that are defended with well-placed sticks arranged in a stockade-like formation, and is complete with a large drainage ditch to keep the copious amounts of water moving out of there. When did Angry Birds or the Candy Crush Saga ever produce such satisfaction compared with something created with one’s own two hands? No column of mine is ever complete without a rant against video games!

Our lovely cedar tree is also open for business now, and contains the finest tree climbing opportunity on this side of the street.
Old or young, big or small, the finest things in life are the simple, and the season of spring invites a return to simplicity and new beginnings. The first week of warm weather since the sinking of the Titanic has me ruminating and savoring such things.

Over here we celebrated the first day of spring by having a huge bonfire, and inviting neighbors located within a literal stone’s throw of our house. There was nothing fancy at all, but who doesn’t love the simple perfection of a roaring fire? It transfixes even the most jaded among us, and brings people together around the warmth it brings.

The old fashioned act of grilling, over wood or charcoal, has the same effect. Our spirits are lifted, and camaraderie is renewed by these simple acts that have been cherished and affirmed over centuries and millennia. During these warm days ahead take the time to shut off your computers and do something real like play with sticks, even if that means starting a small communal fire with them, or plan to dig a hole to plant some potatoes. Sit outside in your front yard and take in the ambient sounds of the neighborhood and serenading calls of robins that have returned en masse.

As the snow melts and water covers the land one might also be thankful to live in a place where we are blessed with such an abundance of this life sustaining resource that so much of the world lacks. One way to do this is to participate in the Come Unity 6k run or walk on May 3rd. The race will be held on the Lakewalk along the shore of the greatest lake there is, and the hope is that enough funds will be raised through this simple event to drill one well in an impoverished community that currently lacks access to clean water. According to the organization’s website, comeunitynow.org, the widespread lack of access to clean water kills children worldwide at the rate of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours. Most Duluthians can agree that clean water should be a birthright, and something that everyone can take for granted just like us.  (BLOG READERS WOULD HAVE DIFFERENT OPTIONS WHEREVER YOU ARE. FIND SOMETHING FUN, SIMPLE, PURPOSEFUL, AND JUST DO IT!)

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