Time out

Mr. Blue will be back April 24. Stay tuned.

By Garrison Keillor

Published April 3, 2001 6:53PM (EDT)

It's almost 3 a.m. and it looks as if there won't be a column from Mr. Blue again this week. Mr. Blue has been up since 4 a.m. this morning working on a little novel that he is gradually coming to think might get finished someday soon and there simply isn't life or breath enough to do that and also address this week's batch of letters spread out on the table. So I will write this apology and then go to bed. I have a class to teach tomorrow and a show to do on Saturday at Purdue University and I intend for Mr. Blue to return after that.

It snowed this morning in St. Paul, a beautiful light snow that clung to the branches and made the landscape transcendent and luminous, but we're done with winter now and have no patience left. We're looking forward to several days of rain that should flush the snowbanks away and usher in spring. Sometimes winter hangs around into April -- even early May -- like some old drunken guest who gets very chummy and garrulous after the other guests have left, and all you can do is ignore him.

I live in a house where a little girl, 3 years old, lives, and with 3-year-olds, there's a steady drumbeat of hope and anticipation. This girl grieves to be put to bed at night and she wakes up joyful. She toddles into our room with a big grin on and she larks around and we go downstairs and she smiles at her breakfast, at each berry and chunk of melon and bit of cereal. And then Katja, our Czech au pair, comes downstairs, and the little girl is beside herself with pleasure. She adores Katja. My wife and I are trailer trash now, and Katja is the Sun and the Moon. But then last Sunday our old nanny Suzanne came over and the little girl took one look at her and threw her head back in ecstasy and flung out her arms, a sort of religious vision.

This is all to the good for someone as dour and gloomy as I. It's a huge help to have a little girl take your hand and lead you to the kitchen and ask you for a pear and be elaborately grateful when you give her one. Kiss your hand and so forth.

A reader sent me a letter recently that floored me; she asked, "Why do you write this column?" She didn't mean it to be an insulting question, I think. I struggle with the answer, but I guess it's something along the line of -- nobody's problem is alien to me, there isn't any dumb thing you can do that I couldn't have done myself, but despite it all, there is so much giddy humor and beauty and sheer bravery all around us, which a little girl makes clear, and a columnist like Mr. Blue would like to have a little bit of her in what he writes.

But not today. Next week. I'm off to bed.

Garrison Keillor

Garrison Keillor is the author of the Lake Wobegon novel "Liberty" (Viking) and the creator and host of the nationally syndicated radio show "A Prairie Home Companion," broadcast on more than 500 public radio stations nationwide. For more columns by Keillor, visit his column archive.

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