THE DAYS ARE definitely longer. I got a COVID shot last week and a guy in Georgia invited me to come do a show in the fall and one morning I asked my wife, “What’s in the news?” and she said, “Not much.” Things change, we move on, “lizard brain” is now in the Oxford English Dictionary and so is “amenitize” and “back-sass,” “bohunkus,” “code speak” (deliberately ambiguous), “cooked-up,” “jinx” (when two people say the same thing simultaneously), “pitchy” (meaning off-key), and “running around like a chicken with its head cut off,” and this is not the Omaha English Dictionary, this is O-X-F-O-R-D, this is men in medieval gowns and hoods with letters after their names such as DCL, DM, and DLitt and where “color” is spelled with a U.

The decapitated chicken was a common phrase in my childhood, and one we saw firsthand in the backyard when we killed chickens. Nobody in my family ever got frantic, there was no shouting, no hysteria. Once in a blue moon my mom might say, “You kids are driving me to a nervous breakdown,” but no breakdown followed. We were a quiet family; I don’t claim that this is virtuous but it certainly saves time.

I came to imagine that an impassioned temperament was a sign of artistic talent so I accepted being an ordinary workman, which suits me just fine. And I accept being a white male though I don’t consider it definitive, any more than “size-12 shoe” or “Minnesotan” or “man on blood thinner” is. I am not simply white, I’m of Scots-Yorkshire ancestry, a mournful people who thrive on cold and cloudiness. Precipitation cheers us up. In bright sunlight we shrivel up, put us in a cold fog and we bloom. We are comfortable with silence. We wave away compliments. We are good at suppressing feeling, our own and other people’s. Nonetheless, when the woman I love sits on my lap and puts her head against mine and says, “I need you,” I am moved, deeply. I don’t hurl brushfuls of paint at a canvas or compose a crashing sonata or write a long poem, unpunctuated, all lowercase, in poetic code speak and revolutionary syntax, but I am very moved. I wouldn’t say so if it weren’t true.

This is a benefit of the lockdown. Two persons isolated together in a small space, their contact with the larger world severely limited, either come to appreciate each other tenderly or they seek distant corners. I appreciate this one and like to lie in bed next to her and speak softly about whatever is on my mind, tell her secrets, and though she is reading a book, she hears me and responds. We used to have a bigger life and now it’s quite small and I feel content in it. She does the worrying and I, coming from the Cold Rain People, am happy to be warm and indoors.

Americans died at Normandy and Guadalcanal and Okinawa and the Battle of the Bulge to defeat the fascist racist white nationalists, and they didn’t intend to die but they accomplished good by their sacrifice, and we should be grateful. More of our people have died of COVID-19 than died in World War II, which is a tragedy, but if we the survivors gain from the pandemic a love of the simpler life and a tenderness for those in isolation with us, then this should be put in words.

The white nationalists who stormed the Capitol are fighting for the rights of the fearful to avenge themselves on society — if you suffer from violent hallucinations and carrying an AR-15 in the Piggly Wiggly gives you comfort, go right ahead — and we the quiet majority are drawing comfort from movies and books and cooking and Googling the OED. I could Google Little Richard and there he’d be, on YouTube, standing at the piano, banging out “Tutti Frutti.” I enjoy a little tutti-fruttism now and then but I abstain now because my wife is working the crossword. She reads a clue to me: “the — — — is wider than the sky: Emily Dickinson” and I say “Brain” and this impresses her. I also spell Samuel Pepys’s last name for her.

It is a small transaction. I majored in English in college and here I’ve put my education to some use. But in the pandemic lockdown, it feels important. It makes me happy. I wish there were more words for domestic happiness. We have plenty of words for deliberate ambiguity; we need words for the silent comfort of being in one room with the one you love.

© Garrison Keillor is the author of two new books, “Lake Wobegon Virus” and “That Time of Year (a memoir).”

Wednesday, March 03, 2021

EVERY TIME I mention Joe in my column, I get ferocious mail from a few readers describing him as a criminal and a moron who is out to destroy America, which I forgive them for, but Scripture says that’s not enough: “Bless them that curse you, pray for them which despitefully use you,” which …

Sunday, February 28, 2021
Friday, February 26, 2021
Wednesday, February 24, 2021

NOW THAT Joe and Jill are moved in and their stuff unpacked and shoes lined up in the closet, the country is getting used to the idea of a slender president who owns dogs and has a working wife who is openly affectionate, and what remains to discover is what recreational activity will the ma…

Sunday, February 21, 2021

BEIJING WASTED no time in greeting the new U.S. administration with an escalation of China’s high-risk obnoxiousness. On the fourth day of Joe Biden’s presidency, Chinese fighter and bomber aircraft simulated an attack on the USS Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier group as it sailed into th…

Friday, February 19, 2021
Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Sunday, February 14, 2021
Friday, February 12, 2021

ONE DRAMA of Joe Biden’s infant presidency was foreshadowed 13 months ago in Iowa when a rival for the Democratic presidential nomination, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, answered a question. Her “a program for every problem” repertoire included up to $50,000 of forgiveness for indeb…

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

I AM sitting here watching over and over a video my wife took with her phone in Central Park after the 18-inch snowfall last week, looking through the trees at a snowy hill and listening to the shouts and shrieks of joy from New York children as they slide down the hill on saucers and sleds …

Sunday, February 07, 2021
Friday, February 05, 2021