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A Porch Sofa Almanac

2010
Author:

Peter Smith

A Porch Sofa Almanac

An anthology of Peter Smith’s captivating musings on being Minnesotan

A Porch Sofa Almanac is the first collection of Peter Smith’s essays for Minnesota Public Radio. The result is a hilarious, often wry, and always remarkable portrait of everyday life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes that will resonate with Minnesotans from the state’s biggest cities to its smallest towns.

In his wonderful new book Peter Smith has assembled a year’s worth of short pieces that prove the true power of story lies not in the ability to reveal but to conjure. Visceral and poignant, these beautiful tales each catch and release a moment. Suddenly memories begin to flood like the Mississippi River in springtime. As he does on Minnesota Public Radio, whether it’s a crisp autumn day under a Hudson’s Bay blanket, a Little League game, or perhaps the best opening line ever in ‘Meditation on a Lawnmower,’ Peter reminds us that a year—a lifetime—is made of episodes, times with those we love, community, and family. In Peter’s world we are verbs not nouns, always changing, living, experiencing, and yet like the seasons, bound to come around again. These little gems, or at times more like Pop Rocks, burst forth; we belong.

Kevin Kling

For Peter Smith, the assignment from Minnesota Public Radio was simple: try to say something about Minnesota. So he began exploring the simple, everyday Minnesota things he came across and sharing them with listeners each Tuesday morning. The result is a hilarious, often wry, and always remarkable portrait of everyday life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes that will resonate with Minnesotans from the state’s biggest cities to its smallest towns.

A Porch Sofa Almanac is the first collection of Smith’s essays for MPR—stories that keep close to the ground and reflect on the common experiences of being a Minnesotan: small-town football, stacks of Hudson’s Bay blankets in an antique store, ice fishing, and even those soggy gloves that emerge from melting snowbanks each spring. Following the calendar year, Smith’s reflections are the perfect season-by-season companion for that chair by the fireplace, a bench by the campfire, a seat on the bus or train—or, of course, a porch sofa.

A Porch Sofa Almanac
ultimately casts Minnesota in a unique light. As Smith writes: ‘The entire state comes across as some wonderful, slightly quirky treasure unearthed at a church basement rummage sale.’ Much loved—perhaps a little rough around the edges—and absolutely ready to be shared.

A Porch Sofa Almanac

Peter Smith lives in Hopkins, Minnesota. He writes magazine articles, fiction, poetry, an occasional op-ed piece, and is a weekly contributor to Minnesota Public Radio's Morning Edition with Cathy Wurzer.

A Porch Sofa Almanac

In his wonderful new book Peter Smith has assembled a year’s worth of short pieces that prove the true power of story lies not in the ability to reveal but to conjure. Visceral and poignant, these beautiful tales each catch and release a moment. Suddenly memories begin to flood like the Mississippi River in springtime. As he does on Minnesota Public Radio, whether it’s a crisp autumn day under a Hudson’s Bay blanket, a Little League game, or perhaps the best opening line ever in ‘Meditation on a Lawnmower,’ Peter reminds us that a year—a lifetime—is made of episodes, times with those we love, community, and family. In Peter’s world we are verbs not nouns, always changing, living, experiencing, and yet like the seasons, bound to come around again. These little gems, or at times more like Pop Rocks, burst forth; we belong.

Kevin Kling

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Peter for a long, long time. A great guy—and it turns out—a great writer. His radio commentaries on life in Minnesota are real jewels.

Gary Eichten

Smith’s prose can have the flavor of Bill Bryson or of that old Minnesota standby Garrison Keillor. Other parts of Almanac are infused with an autumnal quality that’s movingly elegiac. Smith’s little volume is, overall, heartfelt and appealing.

Star Tribune

The 60 short essays in A Porch Sofa Almanac capture real-life Minnesota similar to the way Garrison Keillor does in fiction with the Lake Wobegon stories, and I found myself smiling and nodding along more than once as I read.

Redwood Gazette

These essays take the mundane, the ordinary, the Minnesotan and cast them in a light that makes you feel as though you’re hanging out with old friends, rather that reading a series of essays.

Northfield News

Many of these stories are like lumps of sugar stirred into your coffee: short, sweet, the mist rising up like ghostly loons above your cup. They are meant to take you on a small journey or give you a brief look at Smith’s mostly suburban life. His writing is simple and poignant and colorful and his observations mostly spot on. It’s a good read. And when you’re done, if you are like me, it will seem like you’ve made another friend. Or at least discovered another author who you will want to read again.

Cook County News-Herald

A quick, entertaining read.

Flyoverland

Even though the essays are about being from and living in Minnesota, there is still plenty to appreciate for those readers who have never been there: Smith’s humor, pseudo-evil plots against his sons’ toys, and honest opinions on living in the land of 10,000 lakes.

Big Muddy

A Porch Sofa Almanac is the perfect guide for being Minnesotan, but would also make a handy field guide for out-of-state visitors.

The Ely Summer Times

A Porch Sofa Almanac

Contents


Preface

Porch Sofas
Off to College: A Parental Spreadsheet
School Starts This Morning
We Want to Go Back, Too
In Praise of Small-Town Football
Conflicted
Autumn Golf
An Open Letter to the City of Hopkins
Hudson’s Bay Blankets
Splitting Wood
The Menu Changes
Good Autumn Reads
Darn Packers Fans
Election Night Radio
No-Bleeping-Vember
Thanksgiving Road Game
A Thanksgiving Lesson
An Amusing Pastime
North Country Fashion Statement
Winter Wimps
Together Again for the Holidays
Sulking in a Winter Wonderland
A Christmas Shopping Memory
Now It Can Be Christmas
Alas, Poor Taurus
Dog Days in the Ice Fishing Shack
The Inscrutable Finn
Crows
Real World Valentine’s Day
A Timeless Saga
Split-level Shack-whacky
Contemplating Gutter Gloves
Thinking Ill of the Literate
Jogging Again
Talk about Your Golf Drives
Cooking with Grandma
Are You with Us? Or Are You One of Them?
Planting Corn
A Little Frugality, Por Favor
Lilac Season
Meditation on a Green Minivan
They’re Back
What’s the Rush?
A Tiny Discrepancy
Is Ambivalence the Perfect Father’s Day Gift?
Tacky, Tacky, Tacky
People Watching at Lake Calhoun
Little League. Big Problem.
Thanks, Mom
Meditation on a Lawnmower
A Minnesota Must
On Finding a Bungee Cord
In Praise of Municipal Golf
Who Turned on the Air Conditioning?
Homegrown Tomatoes
Still Going Out for the Team
Start the State Fair without Me
A Fifties Flashback
Acorns and Toyotas
4 Sale

A Porch Sofa Almanac

UMP blog: Have you got a case of the Central Standard Blahs, too? Chin up.

11/9/2010
There’s something about the first few days after we change the clocks back in the fall that gets your attention, gives you reason to pause and take inventory, and serves as a kind of spiritual tipping point.

UMP blog: "We stunk and we knew it."

8/18/2010
For a while there—most of freshman, and all of sophomore, junior and senior years—my high school football team was mired in a losing streak. Once a year, we might tie someone. Or even eek out a win. The sad truth was that, for a variety of reasons, we just weren’t very good, and from the start of practice in late August to the day we turned in our equipment in early November, the deepest bruises and contusions were the ones inflicted on our hearts and souls. We stunk and we knew it.