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The Joys of Puttering

This woman spoke of the "joys of puttering" and lamented the fact that the strenuous pace of modern working and living had deprived women of this form of leisurely and pleasant approach to their recreation. A number of small tasks which she found to do about the farmhouse she could perform as she liked and without regard to a time schedule. She weeded the borders, she raked the lawn, she gathered wild flowers for the house. This city-bred woman who feared small insects, who had never cooked or kept house, or weeded a garden border, or gathered fruit from a tree, began to know and love a phase of life which was remote from haste and the tensions of gregarious living and which provided for her the type of play opportunity which she needed. Her fatigue began to lift, her outlook on life became more placid and rosy and her efficiency improved. The work which she had found endless when she was so tired became manageable again and she was able to come to an end of it at the end of the working day.

Other women also spoke of the lack of opportunity for relaxation with small but meaningful chores to break the tedium of complete leisure. A room in a club or a small apartment offers few opportunities for the small pleasant tasks, leisurely done, which the Aunt Elizabeth spinster of a generation ago thought of as "puttering" and which was the needful play and diversion for women of her generation. There was that end of knitting to be finished, the picture frame that wanted mending and the pink rambler that needed trimming and pruning. Small pleasant ends of work to fill the hours after the serious business of the day was ended and the pressing necessary work was done. But these tasks were easy to do, they were soon finished, they permitted a leisurely passing from one to the other, women "puttered" and rested without having to sit still with folded hands. But the older single woman who today lives alone in a furnished room—what can she do in an evening when she does not want to go to a meeting, a concert, or a lecture? She can listen to the radio, of course, and she does, but what work can she do with her hands to relieve the day's tension while she tries to rest tired nerves and a tired brain? So little in fact that there is real danger that she will merely sit still or lie down to rest and that while so doing she will start thinking again of the day's round of duties which has produced her fatigue. Or worse still, she may go out to another meeting.

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