April 21, 2012

a prairie home companion

Listening to A Prairie Home Companion on Saturday evening instantly takes me to the long summers we've spent in Minnesota. When Garrison Keillor says "It's been a quiet week in Lake Wobegon," and inhales, long and nasal, somehow I am standing on the shore of Lake Minnetonka, trying to decide if I can swim all the way to the floating dock. All of the older kids play out there, diving off and shaking their hair as they reemerge, and you hope you can be as cool as them--but when you are seven, the swim is just too far.

"What are you going to play for us?" Mr. Keillor asks, and then they sing, oh how they sing! When they harmonize with soft violins and trembling banjos through my radio, I can see summer twilight descending on my grandparent's yard. The cousins wave sparklers and shout, even though the babies are asleep inside (they're used to it, my mom and aunt say, sitting on the front step.)

Somehow the rise and fall of Mr. Keillor's voice, interspersed with the sound effects man (who knew you could recreate that sound on the radio?) holds the quiet Minnesota magic. The call of the loon, the inevitable mosquito bite. The gentle rumbling of the car putting us to sleep as Dad drives us home from the state fair.

Even if you're stuck in traffic on 66, trying to finish all of your weekend errands, there's something comforting in knowing you can turn on the radio at 6pm and maybe--just maybe, it'll take you home.

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