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Column: Spring ahead through simplicity

Eddy Gilmore

When the phone rang last week, my son picked it up in bewilderment as if it were some futuristic communications device from “Star Trek,” listened intently for a second, and said, “Huh?”

This is in contrast to our neighbor’s children, who answer the phone crisply and flawlessly, as if they were auditioning for a part as an executive secretary, “Hello, this is Kate.” Then they proceed to communicate intelligently into the device and actually carry on a conversation with an adult.

Yes, the Gilmores seem to have fallen down on the job when it comes to training on technology, even if it is just 20th century technology, such as the modern zipper. We’ll redouble our efforts in this area, but I must say that I am proud to be among just 6.9 percent of Americans who only have a landline and no cell phone, according the National Journal (Dec. 18, 2013). Can you believe so few of us fall into this antiquated category?

I prefer things that are real and come out of the earth, such as sticks, potatoes and clean water. Kids can find all kinds of things to do with whatever is not manufactured and shrink-wrapped in plastic.

Just this past weekend my son and a friend must have moved 2,000 pounds of snow in a herculean effort to dig a massive fort. It spans most of our yard and contains ramparts over four feet high that are defended with sticks arranged in a stockade-like formation. It’s completed by a large drainage ditch to keep the copious amounts of water moving out of there.

When did Angry Birds or the Candy Crush Saga ever produce such satisfaction compared with something created with one’s own two hands? No column of mine is ever complete without a rant against video games!

Old or young, big or small, the finest things in life are the simple, and the season of spring invites a return to simplicity and new beginnings. Our lovely cedar tree is also open for business now, and contains the finest tree climbing opportunity on this side of the street.

Over here we celebrated the first day of spring by having a huge bonfire and inviting neighbors located within a literal stone’s throw of our house. There was nothing fancy at all, but who doesn’t love the simple perfection of a roaring fire? It transfixes even the most jaded among us, and brings people together around the warmth it brings.

During these warm days ahead, take the time to shut off your computers and do something real like play with sticks, even if that means starting a small communal fire, or dig a hole to plant some potatoes. Sit outside in your front yard and take in the ambient sounds of the neighborhood and serenading calls of robins that have returned en masse.

As the snow melts and water covers the land one might also be thankful to live in a place where we are blessed with such an abundance of this life sustaining resource that so much of the world lacks.

One way to do this is to participate in the Come Unity 6k Run/Walk for Water on May 3. The event will be held on the Lakewalk, along the shore of the greatest lake there is. It will raise funds to drill a well in an Ethiopian community that currently has no access to clean water.

Duluthian Matt Scott is organizing the local event, which drew 80 people last year and raised $3,000. He said he expects to draw 150 people this year. His sister, Kristen Scott of Philadelphia, is the founder of Come Unity.

A professional ballerina, she started putting on shows with her fellow dancers to raise money and the project grew from there.

According to the organization’s website,, the widespread lack of access to clean water kills children worldwide at the rate of a jumbo jet crashing every four hours.

Most Duluthians can agree that clean water should be a birthright, and something that everyone can take for granted, just like us.

Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. He can be reached via e-mail at eddyg_123@

Eddy Gilmore

Monthly Budgeteer columnist Eddy Gilmore is a freelance writer, father of twins and husband of one. Connect with Eddy at