White Oxley's grandson Jakey, who'd just turned seven, said, "This is the worst winter I can ever remember."
That confused White. The winter so far had been pretty mild, especially compared to last. Most days had stayed in the balmy sixty to forty degree range with a bright winter sun. And the Southern Plains drought from last summer persisted; what little precipitation there had been in the late fall and, so far, early winter coming only as rain.
Last year in the first week of January the second snow storm of the season had blown through leaving the frozen stuff so deep and the air so cold school had to be suspended for another two weeks past the mid-year break. More snow and deep freeze continued into February, and they had to slosh through March which had the consistency of a half-melted snow cone. That had been the worst winter White could remember.
"Worst ever?" White asked. He put the book mark between the open pages and closed the book, sensing a talk coming. "How do you figure?"
"There hasn't been any snow. Duh," Jakey answered.
Despite the disrespect leveled at him, White had to admit the boy had a point, from his young perspective, anyway. The mid-term break would end the next day; the perils of returning to first grade loomed for Jakey.
"Well, you know, it's all on how you look at it," White said. "Remember last year when you couldn't go back to school and you got bored being cooped up so long?"
After a thoughtful interval, Jakey responded. "I wasn't bored. I liked not going to school."
White nodded. "I can understand that. Believe it or not, there was a time when your old gramp looked forward to snow days, too. But after a couple of 'em, I was ready to get back to school, see my friends and all. Didn't give much thought to being bored."
Jakey looked askance at his gramp. "I'm bored now," he said.
White winced at the stab, and took another sip of coffee. "Yeah. Here's the thing, though; being bored is a state of mind, and a state of mind is something you can be entirely in charge of, something you can totally own. So, if you're bored, all you got to do is think of something that'll make you un-bored. I figure you're smart enough to do that."
Jakey picked up a Lego figure – a two inch tall Darth Vader – from the collection on the floor before him, turning it over slowly, idly with his fingers.
"And another thing, you need to get back to school so you can learn to read and write better. Once you learn to read and write you won't ever have to be bored again."
"Why's that?" Jakey asked. It looked to White like he might have sparked some interest.
"Because when you're able to read there ain't no place you can't go, or nothing you can't learn. And if you've a mind to write you can make up your own worlds to tell others about."
"I don't like to read," Jakey announced. "Reading is hard."
"Yeah, it can be starting out. But like anything else, the more you do of it, the easier it gets. There're all kinds of adventures you can get into when you read."
"Well, let's see." White rose from his chair and went to the bookcase, scanning it. "Ah," he said. "Here's a good one." He pulled the volume from the shelf and returned to his chair.
"Hop up here and let's see what we got. He patted his thigh and Jakey jumped upon it, looking expectantly at the book his gramp opened.
"Chapter 1. Loomings," White started reading. "Call me Ishmael. Some years ago—never mind how long precisely—having little or no money in my purse, and nothing particular to interest me on shore, I thought I would sail about a little and see the watery part of the world…"