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Crank up the Volume and Put on Your Parka

February 2, 2004

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. While Mr. Keillor told about New Orleans and how warm it is down there and how people like to have parties and eat shrimp, and how so many writers go there to find stories to tell, the kids were out sledding on the hill behind the house, squealing with laughter as they flung themselves onto their sleds and each other and I got to thinking about happiness. Seems like a lot of happy people live down in New Orleans. Seems, too, a lot of people think happiness and living in Minnesota don't quite go together.

Well, that's just plain silly. I haven't lived enough years to call myself "wise," but I do know that happiness doesn't have much to do with where you live or how much money you have. It's not out there somewhere. It's in you, and that's all there is to it. Of course, there's anger and sadness and that lonely feeling you get when you're the only one in the house on a Saturday night listening to a radio show and a winter storm is in the forecast and you're not sure where you're headed or what is your purpose and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror and think about the mercilessness of gravity and time. That's about where I was when Pat Donohue played the first few chords of "Let the Good Times Roll." I cranked up the volume and put on my parka and Mr. Sundberg's boots and the red scarf I've never worn. I walked out to the front yard where the lawn slopes and I fell backward into the snow and made the mother of all snow angels. Then I just lay there in the snow and looked at the sky and pulled out of my pocket the Hershey bar I put there so the kids wouldn't find it and I ate every last square.

I could dwell on the fact that I'm no spring chicken, and that I'm not at a restaurant in New Orleans or on a train crossing Canada. I may never have a hot tub on a deck facing the west or dishes that match or a furnace that doesn't dry us all out like beef jerky. Thing is, the kids are healthy, Mr. Sundberg is enjoying his time in Yuma, and I've got clothes to wash. I found a recipe for Shrimp Creole and I'm thinking of trying it out tonight. As for New Orleans, I'll get there. Put it on the list.

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