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Christopherson Column - Writer's block, and the view from a recliner

Mike Christopherson
mchristopherson@crookstontimes.com
Crookston Times

    Sitting in the recliner in the living room on a Sunday afternoon, trying to think of a column topic, with a minimal degree of success...

    • I'm flipping back and forth between the Twins/Royals game and the PGA's Wyndham Championship, and there's a Fidelity Investments commercial on that opens with yet another guy with a perfectly trimmed salt-and-pepper beard sitting in front of a computer screen in his spacious, gorgeous home office. As he sits back in his office chair and removes his glasses in a pondering, inquisitive way, the narrator says, "When the world gets complicated, a lot goes through your mind."

    That is some epically lazy writing. Did Fidelity hire this crew after Pizza Hut rejected their “When you’re hungry, you want to eat” pitch? (And, yes, the irony that I’m calling someone else’s writing lazy while I’m writing this particular column is not lost on me.)

    • Yes, that's right, I'm trying to write a column based on everything that I'm currently seeing and otherwise experiencing from my current perch in the living room.

    • I don't get nearly as much hummingbird action on the feeder hanging outside the window as I should. Perhaps if I was less lazy and actually replaced last year's nectar with a fresh batch?

    • My wife has been working exclusively from home since March and I've been working mostly from home since March. You'd think we'd be able to find time to mount the new curtain rod over the big living room window that we bought...in March. But there it still sits, on the floor, partly tucked behind the couch where we placed it, in March.

   • This particular nugget has nothing to do with anything currently in my line of sight, but it's just a thought: I feel incredibly fortunate that we are old enough to have two sons in college and not still in grade school or high school. Whether it's entirely in-person instruction, a hybrid model or a whole lot of online learning from home, we are infinitely grateful that we don't have to deal with all of that. Sure, it's not a great time to be a college student, either, or the parent of a college student, but, parents with younger kids? We feel for you.

    • This paragraph isn't based on something I can actually see, either, but I know it's hanging on a wall in the basement. Soon after I moved away from home as a college student and had my own place, my parents, wanting to provide some half-decent decor, gave me a large framed print of a mountain and forest scene in the morning, entitled "Teklanika Sunrise." These were pre-Google search times, so for years I had no idea where Teklanika was. Eventually, I realized it's in Alaska.

    One of my favorite books and one of my favorite books made into a film is "Into the Wild," the story of Chris McCandless, who shunned his abusive, dysfunctional family, material possessions and society in general – he burned the last of his cash – and hiked to the Alaskan wildernesss in what, in some eyes, amounted to a suicide mission. He stumbled across an old City of Fairbanks transit bus that had been brought there many years earlier to be used as shelter for construction workers building a road, and it was his home for more than 100 days as he lived on rice, small game that he shot, and edible plants.

    At one point, McCandless was ready to move on, but he couldn't cross the raging, swollen river nearby, so he was basically trapped. He eventually died of starvation at the age of 24 in 1992 after mistakenly ingesting a poisonous plant.

    In the years since the book and movie came out, people who have romanticized the tale or feel a special bond with McCandless had journeyed to the so-called "magic bus" to experience whatever they felt they needed to experience. Trouble is, two people died during the difficult hike, and more than a dozen became lost or trapped and had to be rescued.

    So, last month, the Alaska National Guard, using a Chinook helicopter, hoisted the bus into the air and transported it to a museum, where it will be exhibited. As I read the story on the bus removal, the fact that until that moment was unbeknownst to me jumped off the page: The river McCandless was unable to cross was the Teklanika River. And, not only that, my parents would have given me that print right around the time McCandless was living in that bus.

    I know, right? Mind...blown.