The Writer’s Almanac

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch. ®

From Friday’s walk

“Be well, do good work, and keep in touch” is Garrison Keillor’s sign-off for each edition of The Writer’s Almanac. I assume it’s trademarked by either Minnesota Public Radio or American Public Media, who distributes the daily five-minute program.

I know of Garrison Keillor through The Writer’s Almanac. I’ve never listened to A Prairie Home Companion. I’ve never even seen the movie, which is my usual cheat to acquaint myself with things I feel I should know more about.

As it is, The Writer’s Almanac is such a rare treat for me. New Orleans’s public radio station, WWNO, plays it around 9am each morning, right at the end of their broadcast of NPR’s Morning Edition and right before On Point. I’m usually at my job by that time, and I don’t listen to radio (or anything else non-job related, really) when I’m at my desk.

I always get a little charge when I hear the opening piano notes for the program. (Wikipedia tells me it’s a version of a Swedish song, performed by Richard Dworsky). And it was rare indeed that I heard it twice in a week—last Friday and this Monday. I took the day off Friday, and was late into work on Monday because of an eye doctor’s appointment.

My mind always feels a little more expanded when I get to hear The Writer’s Almanac. I hear poems that I’m not likely to encounter anywhere else, and hear of fascinating people who would not otherwise cross my frame of reference. Unless they showed up in a Google Doodle.

One of my favorite poems—John Updike’s “December, Outdoors”—was first introduced to me via the program. And June 30—Friday—was the birthday of poet Czeslaw Milosz, someone I’d never heard of before. He was born in Lithuania in 1911, and raised in Poland. He moved to the United States around 1960, and wrote the following about this country:

“What splendor! What poverty! What humanity! What inhumanity! What mutual good will! What individual isolation! What loyalty to the ideal! What hypocrisy! What a triumph of conscience! What perversity!”

That kind of resonated with me. Especially considering the inhumanity Milosz witnessed in his lifetime.

Anyway, after hearing The Writer’s Almanac on Friday, I was inspired to do something a little off my routine. I went for a walk along the lakefront—that’s how New Orleanians refer to a certain section of Lake Pontchartrain’s shoreline. I could go on about this shallow, brackish, body of water; how it and the Mississippi River define the geography of New Orleans; how it pervaded the dreams of my youth. But maybe that’s a post for another time.

So, I’ll conclude with this: I always consider it a small success when I’m able to “be well, do good work, and keep in touch.” In the past week, I’ve gotten my eyes checked out (they’re healthy), I’ve written about some things I find inspirational, and I’ve posted here. If I can keep myself from worrying about either the magnitude or measurement of these actions, then I will have truly succeeded.

Here are some more pictures from Friday’s walk:

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