I love the news from Lake Wobegon. Okay, every week seems to be a quiet week there, but that doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot going on under the surface of the small town community. For those who aren’t familiar with the Lake Wobegon stories, they feature on Garrison Keillor’s radio variety program, A Prairie Home Companion which broadcasts on PBS radio. The stories revolve around a meek, god fearing community in Minnesota, whose people don’t like to show off and seem to get unhappy if everything is going their way. Basically, if you can understand what a Lutheran is, you have the key to Keillor’s Wobegon stories.
Keillor was a writer long before he was a popular presenter and his pieces read well on the page. I was lucky enough to be given the collections, Leaving Home and Life Among the Lutherans recently as a gift. I adore the Wobegon stories and have subsequently devoured both books. Keillor has a whole range of publications about Lake Wobegon though, including numerous novels. I had to pick one story to talk about, and I went with the one story that was duplicated in both collections. I know it’s a little show-offy to concentrate on the stand out story, and I’m not sure the citizens of Lake Wobegon would approve, but I settled on Pontoon Boat anyway.
Wally, the owner of the local bar, buys himself a pontoon boat to sail on the lake. He loves his boat but can’t show off to his patrons about it. He can only speak about how troublesome owning a boat is. However, he loves his boat and keeps inviting people out on the lake for boat rides. When Wally invites the mayor, Clint Bunson out, Clint remembers that a delegation of Lutheran ministers are coming to town and it would give them something to do to go out on the lake. The ministers arrive two months later, all 24 of them. The pontoon boat of course can’t comfortably hold 24 lutheran ministers, plus Wally and the mayor, but Wally doesn’t want to speak up and reveal himself as some type of ‘amateur sailor.’ So the overladen vessel sets out onto the lake, with the ministers politely crowded in the back. Of course, things go wrong, Fortunately the water is not deep. The story ends up with ‘Twenty four ministers, up to their smiles in water, chins up, trying to understand this experience and its deeper meaning.’ Just wonderful.
Thanks to the power of the internet, I can link a Garrison Keillor story right here. If you have a quiet moment, sit back and enjoy the news from lake Wobegon.