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Creativity’s as easy as playing in the dirt


Oliver Hedgepeth

Oliver Hedgepeth

Of all the open secrets about Wilson, it’s the creative people who abound, some unseen, many visible, many more with works of art that whirl in the wind or just grow in the flower beds and herb gardens around the city.

As a young boy, creativity was a way of existing and living and having fun in the world. I was born before television was a common entertainment center in the home. Just ask anyone from my age about shooting marbles or throwing their pocketknife in a square carved in the dirt during recess at Margaret Hearne Elementary School.

Along the way as we grew into our life’s story, we learned to follow the rules of the road in business and marriage and customer service. And now, our grandkids demand our creative attention.

I remember my dad wearing his assistant fire chief hat backwards to make Sara, his first grandchild, laugh at him looking silly. And him wearing her plastic beads around his neck. He and Sara were making “jewelry,” adorning his official white shirt and black tie.

That was the first instance of silly creativity that became a habit. He became creative in many more ways as he got older in that time of life many call retirement.

What do you find a bit silly or creative in your life now? Being creative can be a bit tricky and hard to achieve for many people. Start to look around your life during these continuing days of COVID-19 that have forced many inside our homes, away from our friends and families for two years now. Wow! Two years?

We all have a new summer upon us. Let’s find a new, creative way to use these days, this time of our life.

Let’s choose to be silly, creative. It’s easy to do. And fun. And safe.

How do you start? Well, begin by buying some flowers and planting them in your yard out back or in front of your house. If no house, then go to your nursery and buy a few pots of good-smelling herbs.

Buy a pot of lavender or mint. Place them around the house, in the living room or kitchen. Their fragrance will open your eyes and minds to being a bit happier and a bit more creative.

We have an acre of backyard. I started an herb garden. I have no idea what I am doing, but the local nursery is happy to see me buy more cow manure and potting soil and herbs to plant. I even checked out herb planting books from the library. I am way over my head but having fun. And the smells of lavender and mint are great.

Elizabeth, who cooks with all those herbs from the grocery store, is now experimenting with fresh herbs. How much is too much?

Next, turn off your cellphone. Just for 15 minutes. You can live 15 minutes without it.

Go walking in the mornings and evenings. Walk a few blocks and wave at those people who are your neighbors. You may actually talk to someone about that garden box in front of their porch that looks like tomatoes and maybe collards are growing in them. You may meet the new neighbor’s dog.

Can you draw? No? Good. Pick up a pencil and paper and draw a flower. Try a daisy. I’ve found they are the easiest, and my wife loves them. Then go to our art places downtown in Wilson and see what their creative artists are up to. And take that piece of paper with you. Show it to one of the people inside.

We talk to Jane Mylum Gardner often. They will appreciate your drawing.

This is “the” summer to be creative. Plant something, draw something, cook with fresh basil or toss some fresh mint in your iced tea!

Listen. Look. Draw flowers with your granddaughter or your grandson. Call that cranky old aunt you’ve avoided. Really look at Wilson’s art.

Oliver Hedgepeth, a native Wilsonian, is a professor of logistics teaching online at American Military University. Email him at