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Articles written by Parnell Thill

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Notes from the Small Pond: Bad dreams

It’s when you vaguely realize that you’re dreaming that it gets the worst — when you recognize it’s your fault, that you gave birth to it/are presently birthing it, that somewhere in there,... Full story


Notes from the Small Pond: Skatepark redux

While adults never quite lose it, the intuitive, psycho-emotional trigger that gets pulled in kids around mid-to-late August is as keen as the intuitive trigger that gets pulled in geese two months... Full story


Notes From The Small Pond: Before You Die

Before You Die you should read “Moby Dick.” A lot of us from varying generations will have had this title as Required Reading in high school or as an undergrad student. I remember trying to plow... Full story


Notes from the Small Pond: CONFIDENCE… or lack thereof …

The best thing to do when you lose confidence in yourself is find it. Unless you’re not breathing, it’s in there, somewhere. Even in the meekest, most humble and fragile of us, the thing that... Full story

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    June 24, 2022

Notes from the Small Pond: Cops

Typically, when cops show up at your door, it’s not the best news of the day. When they show up after midnight, it almost always isn’t fun. Back in the day — 10/15/25 years ago, in this town,... Full story

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    June 10, 2022

Notes from the Small Pond: Homegoing

Here’s what’s beautiful: Your daughter’s firstborn, rolling on the floor like she did at that age, chin-drooling like she did, round, wet eyes like underwater jewels and an insatiable appetite f... Full story


Notes From The Small Pond: Don't pay me

Every now and then it crowds into one’s consciousness: Why am I rich, poor or middling? How’d I get here? How does Relativity matter? What if I was in Ukraine? Now what? What after I’m dead? At... Full story


Notes from the small pond: Grape pop

When Mary Jo was 7, someone called her “Fatso” as she and her family were walking out of the Our Lady of the Sacred Heart church on a sunny Sunday morning. The offending girl was Mary Jo’s age... Full story


Notes from the Small Pond: Thankful

Until a month ago, I’d been to Hawaii exactly zero times. Then, in something of a Bucket-List-Moment, my daughter, her husband and their perfect-and-beautiful, baby — my third... Full story



My wife was in California for a week, so I turned on the TV and watched all the stuff I'd been hoarding - a sickening amount sports, including UFC - which isn't really allowed when she's around...


Notes from the Small Pond: Smoke

The guy in the wheelchair and Chicago Bulls basketball shorts and no shirt with the shiny, sun-tanned watermelon belly and aviator sunglasses waits at the stoplight for the WALK sign at the bottom of... Full story

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    July 2, 2021

Notes from the small pond: Stinging truth: Liars lie

There’s that Russian-born fable that everyone’s heard, about the Scorpion and the Frog in which the scorpion convinces the frog to ferry him across the river despite the frog’s reticence about...

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    June 11, 2021

Notes from the Small Pond: Checking in on a great lake

Tell your friends who live in Eden Prairie and Anoka and Fargo and everywhere else but here — tell them, but not the annoying ones, that you live within minutes of one of the most accessible... Full story


Notes from the small pond: We have the right to have rights ... right?

Freedom of Speech: We can say what we want, whenever, wherever we want. Except “Fire!” in a crowded theater when there is no fire. Most of us get that. Freedom of Assembly: We can peaceably... Full story

 By Parnell Thill    News    April 9, 2021

When life gives you lemons ... sell coffee

On Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019, at 5:20 p.m., Kathie Kemi, resident of Esko and Cloquet since age 8, was told she had a mass on her pancreas. As the stranger/doctor looked into her eyes and spoke the... Full story


Notes from a small pond: 2020 ... is not so 20/20

The ever-shortening sprint from Halloween to Christmas is on and, with it, the annual retrospection is underway, the tradition of reviewing the year inching ever earlier like the retail Christmas...


Notes From a Small Pond: Terror is in the interpretation

If things were normal, the acrid aftertaste of pumpkin spice lattes and commentary about busting out the flannel and lamenting the coming of snow would suffice for things to scan (as opposed to read)...


Notes from the small pond: Designated Maniac

When everyone’s drunk or getting there on a Saturday night and you’re not, there’s an island you inhabit where the intense loneliness of being surrounded by other humans stings less than during...


Notes From a Small Pond: Masks

There’s a spot on the walking path along the north side of the river, west of the trestle, directly across from where my brother works on the trains that bump back and forth between there and...


Notes from the Small Pond: Manifest Destiny

The world cares. Sorta. The earth doesn’t give a darn. Planet Earth was so much healthier without us on it. Planet Earth is about 4.5 billion years old, as a lava- and gaseous-laden living thing...


Notes from a small pond: Robbed

When I was 7, my Gramps let me hold a 1903 Colt .45 six-shooter revolver and shoot it at a line of Olympia beer cans he’d arranged on the branch of an oak tree somewhere out in the Ditchbanks. I...


Notes from the small pond: Away

When you’re away, the things you thought you’d do but didn’t before you left seem monumentally failed because, in truth, you could’a Got-R-Done, and you didn’t because you didn’t and you...

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    July 26, 2019

Notes from a small pond: Blood

These are the nights. Hot like Vietnam, and muggy, the heat heavy and wet like a blanket drenched in lilac mead. The smell of butterflies. The box fan screaming I’m Trying! plowing hot air, me next...

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    July 12, 2019

Notes from the small pond: Pondering the genesis of evil can leave one 'awake'

Awake. Verb, intransitive verb. (A person can “awake,” as in Wake Up [verb], or a person can be awake, as in: “I’m awake [intransitive], so turn off the alarm.” These states are mutually...

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    May 24, 2019

California has got its own vibe going on

California … knows howda pardy. If you’ve never been, you should and if you have you should again and if you live there you should consider your unfathomable good fortune and shrug off that whole...


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