Monday, March 14, 2016

News from Empire ~ my column from Sunday's paper

Garrison Keillor, author, humorist, and the host of A Prairie Home Companion announced this week that he is retiring as host of his weekly radio show on National Public Radio. Reading this factoid on the smudged screen of my iPhone made me a little sad. I loved Keillor’s News from Lake Wobegon. It sounded a lot like news from Empire. 

Speaking of Empire, Jilda and I performed at Berkley Bob’s Coffee House in Cullman last weekend, and we didn’t get out of there until way past our bedtime. By the time we stopped for a quick snack at a fast-food joint off the Interstate, the clock was pushing 11 p.m. 

A lace of fog hung just above the sage grass in pastures and fields along the Mulberry River, so we slowed to keep deer off our hood. 

We were so close to our house we could smell the barn when we came up on two donkeys standing in the middle of the road. Apparently they were thinking of courting the horses in Don Phillip’s pen, but we interrupted their tryst when we rounded the curve. They bolted as if we’d caught them with their pants down.

They didn’t sprint to the woods but ran down the road as if they were leading us home. 

Jilda rolled the window down to get a better look at the lovable long-eared creatures. “Let’s take them home,” she cooed. They were close enough to pet as we drew near them. I pointed out that while they were adorable, there was no way both of them would fit in the back seat of the Honda. I heard her huff. I could see by the dash lights that she was giving me a “frowny-face” as we crept by the critters.

Before we pulled into the driveway, the donkeys scampered off into a field. I’m guessing they circled back to have another go at the horses. 

Once home, I put on water for our Sleepytime tea and went to write my nightly blog. As I sat tapping keys trying and trying to think of a topic, I pulled up Facebook and posted a brief comment about donkeys wandering the streets of Empire and it lit up my timeline. Over a thousand people saw it over the next few days, and the post got some hilarious comments.

I think people grow tired of the doom and gloom election year news. Debates between candidates really shouldn’t require boxing gloves or dueling pistols. Sometimes I like a story that doesn’t make me want to slash both my wrists with a rusty razor blade. 

That’s what I love about Garrison Keillor and A Prairie Home Companion. It doesn't matter that Keillor’s News from Lake Wobegon is fictional because, on some level, it contains more truth than what you see on most of the major TV news programs. Truth is a rare commodity these days.

And that’s the news from Empire where the women are strong, the men are good looking, and donkeys freely roam the streets at midnight. I will miss Garrison Keillor.


  1. I read "Lake Wobegon" and loved it, but never listened to his show or read any of his columns.

    I guess you live in a Democratic neighborhood.

  2. I didn't know he was retiring and that is sad news for sure. I would much rather hear him speak any day than you know freak haired bully. Those mules seemed to know where to go and we know their hormones were in overdrive. Let's hope they are ok.

  3. Aww I was hoping you had a picture of the donkeys. Your right. Its nice to hear good ol stories that have nothing to do with the political drama around us.

  4. I know that donkeys and horses can be bred to create mules, but it's hard to imagine.

  5. He can't retire! There is a dire need for him and for donkey stories.

  6. I thought Garrison Keillor retired two years ago. Wonder why I had that notion.

  7. A great column for Sunday's paper. I didn't heard of him till now and of course, I had to go investigate. You can always go see him on Youtube. He's a great story teller and I like his style. I'm sure he will be missed by many.

  8. You got me laughing about the donkeys! Very cute!

  9. I read "Lake Wobegon" years ago when my parents were still on the farm. I giggled into the wee hours of the morning.
    "A lace of fog hung just above the sage grass in pastures and fields along the Mulberry River," is absolutely superb.

  10. Comment to Hayes above: They do it at night off the roads near Rick and Jilda's place! SMILE!
    Since it wasn't Elephants, Joeh is right!

    Nite y'all it has been a long day at lake Woebegone!

  11. I'm a big fan of Garrison Keillor.

    Ms Soup

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.


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