The Joy of Puttering

Puttering is one of my favourite activities. It’s difficult to explain, yet it’s so much fun.

Alexandra Stoddard said that, "Puttering is really a time to be alone, to dream and to get in touch with yourself….To putter is to discover.”

Maybe that’s why it’s so much fun. Fun in a quiet sort of way. Puttering is creative. Explorative. Soulful. Grounding.

Puttering is freedom. Freedom from obligation and commitments and filling time with the stuff that we tell ourselves is important. Freedom from all the usual lists that fill my mind. Puttering makes space for me to step back from what I have created, allowing me to remember what has meaning and what it is I really need in my life.

One of my favourite memories as a kid was to discover through puttering. I would find myself wandering through our farm fields, climbing trees, or packing a picnic for an adventure in a nearby forest. There was no detailed plan. It was just puttering.

I would watch for creatures and take pleasure in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature. I would lose my sense of time and find myself getting scolded for being late. One time I remember my mom chasing me home while smacking me with a tree branch because I escaped for an adventure when I was told to stay in the yard. That time I had lead a few other kids astray which upset my mom even more.

As an adult, now I putter in my garden. I love the rhythm of pulling weeds and of strolling around to check on each plant’s progress. My mind wanders to visualize new spaces that await creation. Occasionally the cat will glide by my leg to join in. Or a butterfly will pass. Or the wind will blow so musically through the leaves.

My adventures take me to the ocean where I am guaranteed to always see change. I never know what awaits me as I weave my way down the beach looking for treasures. Driftwood, glass, and rocks never cease to capture my attention.

I have discovered no better gift than to permit myself regular time for puttering. It is in these moments that I lose myself, a time that I remember myself. It is joy. Puttering is simple perfection of the kind that no one should be without. Go ahead…

Marla Hunter-Bellavia is a writer and owner of Ocean Spirit Communications in Nanaimo. She welcomes your comments at