No room for boredom in a small town


There are those who think that living in a small town is boring — just talk to those Bluffton natives who couldn’t wait to graduate and head out for the big city.

And then there are those of us who know otherwise. Boredom is simply a matter of being unable to create activity. Parents know how quickly their children can think of something else to do when, upon hearing the plaintive “I’m bored”, a parent suggests some unappealing chore.

In a small town, you learn to create your own fun, to find things that interest you and to find others who share those interests. When has no immediate access to on an assortment of shopping centers, children’s activity venues, cultural events or museums, one often finds fun in small pleasures.

In the summer, it’s much easier. There are places to bicycle, a local swimming pool, tennis courts, parks, even a restaurant with an outdoor dining area for families. But under our current cover of more than one foot of snow, one searches a bit deeper.

Snow offers its challenges, but it also allows for equal pleasure. Walking through a neighborhood, there are signs of outdoor play — tunnels through snow drifts, igloos, snow forts, and sledding in various forms.

But just for children? Nah. There were just as many adults out playing in the snow, rediscovering the joys of sitting inside a cozy igloo or taking a gleeful sled ride down the biggest hill. In Bluffton, there are a few — the ATT tower, various overpass hills, and the one behind my office in Riley Court. It makes me want to join the university students in the age-old fun-but-frowned-upon practice of “traying”.

After awhile, the cold begins to settle into the bones. Hot chocolate at the local coffee shop? How to get there? Walk. In a town of this size, one rarely has more than a 10-minute walk to the nearest restaurant.

In what I’d nominate as a “best idea” winner, Pete and Kim Suter, owners of the local theater, used e-mail and various methods of social media, to announce they were “quickly pulling together a 10:30 AM and 1:30 PM matinee at the Shannon Theatre for all of the local folks who are sick of being stuck at home! Come on up and see Tooth Fairy (PG)!”

My brother and sister-in-law live in a much smaller town and they never complain of having nothing to do. In a recent post on her blog, my SIL posted a video of them tubing with their college-age son and his friends.

Wonder what other small town folks are doing to keep busy…aside from shoveling and snowblowing?

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3 responses to “No room for boredom in a small town

  1. I liked this post, Mary! There’s a couple things that came to mind when I read it. One is an observation I’ve made after living in suburbia and growing up in Bluffton. It seems that a lack of “things to do” is a common complaint about small town life. What I’ve noticed, though, is that living in suburbia, we drive everywhere, and it takes 30-40 minutes + to get to most of the places we’re going. So, if someone’s going to compare that to Bluffton, they’d have to include all the “things to do” in about an hour radius of Bluffton. Just a thought. . .

    Also, I just read another news article about how people who are bored can have a shorter life span, like the phrase “bored to death.” It has something to do with lifestyle choices and or risks they may take because they require more stimulation.

    Anyway, sorry for such a wordy comment!

    • Pannabecker Steiner Mary

      Thanks Katie, for your comment. I notice how much we have to drive when we visit Anne in Cincy or Fred’s brother in Chicago. So you’re right — you do have to consider the many options in Toledo, BG, Dayton, even Lima and Findlay. But I think you grew up in a family like mine where we learned so many ways to keep busy — individually and as a family. I love your posts about your sewing/knitting projects and the fact that your daughters seem to have their own similar interests.

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