Three Little Snowpeople

The Cincinnati Enquirer headline said “Study: Nature can be spur to creativity” (December 30, 2012, G6) and I thought, well no kidding. After shushing my inner cynic who wondered who got paid to study something so obvious, and thinking, this article? in the Business section?, I read it. The gist of it is that a group of 56 men and women, average age 28, after spending four-six days hiking with Outward Bound groups without any electronic devices along for the hike, scored better on creativity tests than before their time in the wilderness. Well, half of them did. The placement of the article in the Business section seems to imply if we want more creativity out of workers, they need to ditch the phones and get outside.

What interested me more, though, was that the article also said children spend only 15 to 25 minutes outdoors daily and people ages 8-18 spend more than 7.5 hours daily watching TV or using cellphones or computers. It reminded me of something I observed after the most recent significant snowfall. Our neighborhood got about three inches of perfect packing snow and by mid-morning the streets were clear, the snowfall done, and the sun was trying to peek out. On a walk back from our neighborhood cafe, all warm inside from a pancake and coffee, I noticed there was a definite absence of snowmen in yards. There was absolutely no evidence of snowball fights. Not a half a block away from the middle school that serves our community, during the week between Christmas and New Years, when every kid is not in school and has not been in school long enough to be itching to do something rather than be stuck with the relatives, there were no kids outside playing in the snow. OK, maybe there were some sledding on the hills a few blocks away, but somehow I doubt it. There were no sled or toboggan marks in the pristine snow in front of every house and I doubt kids carried sleds or toboggans, like canoes during a portage, to the local hill. I bet they were holed up with an electronic device.

Just when I was about to despair the creative fate of all children, I walked up on three little snowpeople, about a foot and a half tall, standing shoulder to shoulder facing out to the street, carrot noses and all. The fact that they were less than two feet tall makes it pretty certain little people made them.  Those kids’ futures look bright.

Alan Lacy says in The Inviting Garden: Gardening for the Senses, Mind, and Spirit “gardening satisfies the spirit. It connects us with a small part of the natural order that is ours to tend during our time. It involves the desire to create something of beauty. It has to do with caring and feelings of belonging to the earth” (12). So, even when the garden rests, the gardener should get out and be in it. I’m going to shut down my computer, suit up, and go for a walk.

Cindy Briggs

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