Post to the Host

Host Garrison Keillor answers your questions about life, love, writing, authors, and of course, A Prairie Home Companion.

Send GK Your Question »

Where All the Women are Strong

January 5, 2010 | 3 Comments

Dear Garrison,
I met a lovely woman named Ingrid from a town near Lake Wobegon (Thief River Falls, Minnesota) about a year ago and we've been dating ever since. We moved in together just a few months ago to my house near San Jose, CA. I myself hail from Milwaukee and wonder about any relationship advice you might have for someone living with a person from such a cold climate where the temperatures dip significantly into the negatives.

We'll be at your show this Saturday in San Francisco and I'd love to hear your advice.



Thief River Falls is famous for producing strong women, Mike, and I'd guess that Ingrid, being in love and in California, is looking around for challenges. You may be one of them. Life with you in San Jose is too easy for her and she can enjoy that only so long and then the urge to reorder the world kicks in. I imagine that, if your house was under lax management before, it is now cleaner and brighter and your collection of historic beer cans has been packed up and your Packer pennants and Brewers bobbleheads. Don't be surprised if she suddenly turns vegan or takes up yoga seriously or joins a book club that's reading Proust — and you get the impression, though she won't come right out and say it, that she'd feel better if you did these too. The silent expectation that others share one's interest in self-improvement — this is characteristic of Thief River Falls women. Be on your toes, prepared to follow. If she should ask you one morning, "Are you interested in running a triathlon with me — I saw that there's going to be one in June—" you should say, "Wow! Yes! I was just thinking the same thing." But say it sincerely, not sarcastically. Same, if she says, "I was thinking I'd like to read Finnegan's Wake" or "I saw an ad for a night school course in Arabic" or "I read an article about E. coli and I don't think we should eat another hamburger in our lives". It's a steady upward trail when you live with a Thief River Falls woman. And eventually comes the Big Question and then the Bigger Question. Those you will have to deal with on your own.


Mike, my dad was born in a small town near Thief River Falls called Alvarado. And you live in the San Jose area, as do I. All I can say is, "Buddy, you must really like to take chances."

My Best (you might need it)

Sunnyvale CA - "Gateway to Central Santa Clara County"

Garrison, if only my husband had read your advise we might be training for that triathalon together...

Only 4 of my 45 years lived in MN were spent in Thief River, but they clearly helped form me into the strong woman I am today.

Mike, if perchance YOUR Ingrid is the same Ingrid I knew when she was 5 years old in 1979, you are a lucky man indeed!

I have lived with my strong TRF woman for over 27 years and the advice above is eerily on target.
There is no other explanation for the inner will and outer stregnth in a 5'2" 120lb-er like her!
I refer to her character as being "adamant" about things- truly a euphemism. But as I know, and she is sure to remind me: She is worth it.

Previous Post:
« A Natural Step

Next Post:
A Matter of Honest Labeling »

Post to the Host Archive

Complete Post to the Host Archive

American Public Media © |   Terms and Conditions   |   Privacy Policy