Living in the city provides many distractions. There’s the library, walking downtown, going out for ice cream, stopping at the wifi cafe formerly known as Beaners, the multitudes of playgrounds scattered all over town, the movie theatre, the pool at the high school, the multiple little shops lining the main drag, and the availability of electronic devices to provide entertainment. There’s never a shortage of movie rental outlets, television stations, radio stations, gaming opportunities, and ways to access the internet. Distractions abound.

To be fair, there are also many distractions in the country. A person can take a casual stroll around their property, looking for things that need fixing or improvement – there’s always something. One may also partake in some sort of wildlife observation, whether it be beekeeping, birdwatching, insect collecting, trapping, hunting, fishing, or simply peeking into a bat-house at mid-day when all of the little creatures are slumbering. In the spring, there’s plowing and planting, while in the summer there is weeding and harvesting. Fall rings in with the finale of harvesting and a mad dash to get everything preserved and put away for the winter. Winter is a time to tackle some of those improvements, keep the paths shovelled, bang out and refill the frozen water troughs, order seeds, knit and crochet, clean and organize, and perhaps even enjoy a new book or two. The distractions are just as numerous and varied as the ones in the city, but there is one crucial difference. Can you guess what it is?

Productivity. While both city and country distractions can be fun, entertaining, and a great way to spend one’s time, it is mostly the ones in the country that will end up giving a person a sense of accomplishment. It’s fun to see a new movie in the theatres with a group of friends, but what happens afterward? All you get are a few memories that will fade. It’s just as fun to invite those friends over to help you harvest tomatoes, onions, peppers, and herbs to make a batch of salsa, but at the end of the salsa-making experience you will not leave with just memories. Instead, you have time to talk freely, engaging in idle chit-chat that will bring you closer emotionally. You also will be accomplishing something together, and perhaps some may even be learning a new skill or hobby.

I’ve had my share of city distractions. I miss the country ones, and can’t wait to see the faces of my children light up when they are able to actually accomplish something while engaging in a distraction, even if it’s something as simple as collecting some of the thousands of black walnuts scattered over the property or helping Mama water some plants. Some people might call country distractions work, but that’s just because they haven’t learned how to enjoy it. Some will never learn. I have, though, and I can’t wait to step back into that green, labor-intense classroom.