How ‘Bout That

1 April 2015

My son looking at fish at the lake. Brian Koberlein
My son looking at fish at the lake.

Today my grandmother would have been 99.

She lived in the northernmost region of Minnesota, and I spent many a summer with her. As you might imagine, there wasn’t much in the way of pre-made entertainment in the north woods, so as a child it was pretty easy to get bored. My grandmother couldn’t care less. She had chores to do and a garden to tend, so I could either find a way to get un-bored or I could be given work to do. Needless today, I learned how to entertain myself pretty quickly.

Most of my time was spent on the lake or in the woods. I tried building a raft, learned how to sink a canoe, took day-long trips portaging to other lakes, and explored islands. I saw wolves, moose and all manner of creatures. I saw shooting stars and northern lights. I also did all manner of crazy and dangerous things. Boredom fuels creativity, and so I got creative.

As frustrating as it was at the time, my grandmother’s refusal to simply entertain me is something I’ve come to appreciate over the years. It forced me to explore the world, and to learn about who I was. My grandmother’s only requirement was that I be home for supper. The rest was up to me.

And when I came back at the end of the day, she’d give me supper and listen stories of all the things I did, no matter how crazy or dangerous. She smiled when I was proud, and commiserated when I was disappointed. When my tale of the day’s adventure was done, she would usually give the same response.

“Well! How ’bout that!”