Articles written by Parnell Thill

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 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    May 10, 2024

Notes from the small pond: Motherhood

The young mother rubbed oil on her already brown legs and lay back on the towel in the sand, her skin a shiny offering to the sun. Nearby, her blond, husky son, covered in sand, sucked orange pop... Full story

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    March 1, 2024

Notes From the Small Pond: Us

We’re stuck with each other. All of us. All of us Trumpsters and all of us Biden-Buddies and everyone wishing there was some sane Other Option and all of us Christians and all us Muslims and all of u... Full story


Notes from the small pond: Sitting ...

One of the things people say in the receiving line at funerals is "If there is anything we can do, please let us know ...." So, we did. We let you know. And we will continue to do so. Drowning people... Full story


Notes From the Small Pond: Horatio's Witness

This really happened ... On a bright, azure-sky Christmas day, 2003, my wife and I corralled the kids and the dog and strode out into the snowy landscape to find a good place to take a Christmas card... Full story


Notes from the small pond: Nothing matters

Since matter cannot be created or destroyed, it follows that the same earthly deposit of gold, from which Cleopatra’s boat was built, as she sailed the warm, breezy, mosquito-thick Nile with Marc A... Full story


Notes from the small pond: It never ends

I get it that it never ends until it ends. Until I do. I get it that it never mends until it mends. And that it never will. And, I get it that life includes sorrow. As it always has. And, I get it tha... Full story

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    June 16, 2023

Notes from the Small Pond: Knock-Knock? Who's There? Don't Ask.

When the cops knock on your door at the stroke of midnight, it usually isn't to say you've won the lottery. It's typically bad news. It was. The worst news. The well-intentioned young officer and his... Full story

 By Parnell Thill    Opinion    March 3, 2023

Notes from the small pond: Friends

Some friends are lifelong friends and others are seasonal. I once got an emotional email from a friend of 8 years calling me out for not being more friendly — I hadn’t been paying enough att...


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, the hor... 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 thr... 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 mak... 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, when... 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 for pre... 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 the r... 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 and s... 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 perf... 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 the l...

 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 W... 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 gat... 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)...


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