A Pioneer in Many Ways
I didn't know Justine Kerfoot when I was growing up. I remember seeing her at community functions. I knew that she owned Gunflint Lodge and that she was a greatly respected member of the community. But I never had the pleasure of talking with her.
When my Mom sent me a copy of Woman of the Boundary Waters as a Christmas gift in 1986, I was delighted to receive a book about "home." The familiar sounding names and places made me homesick, and I admired Justine more and more as I read of her adventures and enjoyed her eloquent natural writing style.
But it wasn't until I moved back to Minnesota in 1995 and was working as a DIRECTV representative at Arrowhead Electric that I got to talk to Justine. The first time I answered a call from her, I was a bit flustered. Justine Kerfoot - THE Justine, THE author? But her friendly voice and sense of humor put me at ease.
It was always a challenge to explain over the phone how the satellite television remote worked or why the receiver needed a "reset." Some people became impatient and irritated when their problem couldn't be solved instantly. Not Justine.
At her Memorial Service, her grandchildren said there was nothing she couldn't do when she put her mind to it. Mastering the marvel of satellite television was something she set her mind to.
I spent a lot of time on the phone with Justine, talking her through "system tests" and helping her figure out the remote. We laughed quite a bit as she manned the phone while her friend, Charlotte pressed the buttons on the television or satellite box. She apologized for being a bother and cursed a bit, but she eventually triumphed and figured out how to tune in to her favorite channels.
She was a true pioneer, whether it was driving dog teams, guiding through the wilderness, running a resort - or learning how to check the signal on her satellite dish.
So, when I remember Justine, I not only imagine the author on snowshoes or paddling a canoe, I picture her with her feet up, relaxing with a cup of coffee in front of the television, watching the Travel Channel, satisfied that she mastered that confounded satellite dish.
It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.
Ursula Le Guin