Mennonite Heritage Village

The Value of Puttering Around

October 20, 2022

By Gary Dyck

Mennonites are a driven people. As the Leaving Canada exhibit at Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV) shows, we often don’t stay in one place for long. We build new villages, new businesses, and never look back it seems. We like to keep long lists and spend our time fulfilling specific tasks. However, every once and a while there is a Saturday where our heart takes over and declares the day as a puttering day. Enough of hurrying along, it is time to do what our heart is drawn to and only move on when something else catches our attention.

Puttering is when work becomes playful. It is not about getting results as quickly as possible but enjoying the moment and finding creative solutions to the problems around us. For me, it is going into the garage and seeing what needs a little tune-up or how I can deal with the messy overflow that has occurred since my last day of puttering.

Surely, generations of Mennonites before us had many days of puttering during these cold months. I can just see the men going into their housebarn, standing on the threshold of the door and after a couple minutes and deciding, “today, is the day I’m going to get rid of that annoying creak in the barn door.” The calm puttering begins and continues all day till supper. First the creak, then the hinge, then while getting a nail, he remembers something else that could use a couple nails.

An editorial in the June 24th, 2011, New York Times defines it as: “Puttering is small-scale, stream-of-consciousness problem-solving. It is setting sail on a sea of random course changes. The day passes, and you have long since forgotten what you were looking for — or that you were looking for anything at all. You feel as though you’ve accomplished a lot, though you have no idea what. It has been a holiday from purpose.”

We all need days of play, for some it may be a sport, going out into the woods, but sometimes a good day of puttering is enough to restore our well-being as well as our household. Hope you can putter around our galleries and gift shop one of these Saturdays!


Upcoming Events:

MHV Village Books & Gifts shop and Galleries are open Tuesday to Saturday. The grounds are available for strolling (but heritage buildings are closed), come and see the geese at the pond as they start their migration!

The Beaches of Steinbach, October 22, 7pmAn illustrated talk by Bill Redekop, free-lance writer, formerly with the Winnipeg Free Press, author of several books about Manitoba including the marvelous ‘Lake Agassiz: The Rise of the World’s Greatest Lake’.

Leaving Canada series webinar – Mexico Mennonites and Nostalgia for ‘Old Canada’ with Royden Loewen, November 1, 7pm – This is a free zoom event with support from the Plett Foundation, Centre for Transnational Mennonite Studies, and Mennonite Heritage Village (MHV). The “Leaving Canada: The Mennonite Migration to Mexico,” is a special MHV exhibit that explores this momentous event, in its various dimensions, featuring artefacts, historical photographs from public archives and private collections, and original interpretative content.

Village Books & Gifts Christmas Market, November 12 – Admission is ‘Tin for the Bin’, supporting Steinbach Community Christmas. Hot lunch served from 11:30 – 2:00. Sleigh Rides are available from 10:30 – 3:30. Vendor spots still available!

Leaving Canada Virtual Tour – Experience the ‘Leaving Canada’ exhibit from the comfort of your own home. In-person exhibit open until November 30.