Tuning in to A Prairie Home Companion on a Sunday mornng in St. Paul, Minnesota

We’re listening to A Prairie Home Companion on Sunday morning because the weather at 5 p.m. on Saturday was too sunny and too warm to be anywhere but on the narrow seat of a mountain bike riding carefully through giant puddles on the bike path in Como Park. Today is still pretty warm — 38 degrees — by Minnesota February standards. But yesterday it was, like, 59 and I swear it was 70 by our south facing back door where I was repairing a crumbling concrete step.

WE’VE BEEN LISTENING to A Prairie Home Companion for a much longer time than we’ve been living in Minnesota. I recall that my sister told us about it one day we were visiting Philadelphia and about to hop onto the then partially finished I-476 (Blue Route) beltway as we drove toward a bleary orange early spring Eastern sunset. She told us about the tall, thin, handsome cowboy who told folksy stories about life in the west (what Minnesota is to people who live in the shadow of Billy Penn’s hat). Thus began a long but intermittant habit of tuning in on Saturday afternoons. Driving from Lewiston up to Spokane. Coming into Missoula from the top of Lolo Pass. Chilling by the pool at our apartment complex in Topeka. A thread tying us to this mysterious, hilarious place called Minnesota populated by humorless Norwegians and Swedes who, suffering the tender mercies of Garrison Keillor, are very funny.

Now we live in St. Paul so close to tiny Exchange Street that it is within the realm of possibility to decide we want see the show in person and be in line for $10 rush tickets 15 minutes later. But there are some disadvantages. We now know things we might wish we did not. Some examples follow: 1) Garrison Keillor is tall but he is not thin and, he would be the first to admit, is not handsome; 2) Sarah Bellum, Sandy Beach, Angio Plasty and Warren Peece do not help to write the show. They’re made up names. Keillor writes the whole thing; 3) Yeah, he’s a pretty smart guy but not quite so smart as we thought. The things he says about Minnesotans … are not made up; 4) It really is as cold here as he says it is.


  1. Garrison Keillor has been described as a “National Treasure” by my liberal and life-loving mom. Nothing short of. If I were 12 and assigned to write an essay about an important American, I would write about Garrison Keillor. Here’s a guy that celebrates what is left of our freedom of speech on a regular basis using the most effective power tool known to mankind and speechmakers alike -humor. The CIA can’t touch him. And yet the CDO (Current Dangerous Occupation)of the country is exposed beautifully in his interwoven ramblings. His gift to liberals everywhere is hope.

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