Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition

By Angela Noel Lawson

February 13, 2019

I grew up in California. Winter meant off-the-shoulder sweaters, jean shorts, and UGGs. But all that changed when I moved to Minnesota. So much so that I measure my years in the Midwest by the winters I’ve spent here. This will be my fifteenth.

The first freeze left me struggling to understand how to scrape the ice from my windshield. My boss at the time, a Canadian, told me to use the edge of my credit card to scrape my window. This was not great advice. But I’d never heard of a “scraper.” So that’s my bad.

It took me 12 winters to actually live in a home with a garage. I never fully appreciated the humble glory of parking beneath a roof until I moved here. Now I do.

I also learned that extreme cold causes cancelled school. My son was in kindergarten for the first “polar vortex” when temperatures dropped to -18F. Jackson struggled to understand that Mommy was on a conference call and couldn’t play just then. But even in those days I rejoiced in the fact that I worked at a company that allowed for remote work. This alone was and is something to be grateful for.

In the past few weeks the Midwest has experienced crazy cold temperatures. Here in Minneapolis we hit -28F, and that wasn’t counting the windchill. But Awesome Nugget posts aren’t about the hardships. They’re about the fun moments of surprise and delight that offer me a moment of pause. Being grateful for all the wonder and joy brought on by circumstance is one of the best parts of being a living, breathing human being.

So without further ado, here’s a few¬† of the little moments I’ve noticed so far this winter. Continue reading “Awesome Nuggets: Winter 2019 Edition”

Campsite Restrooms: An Appreciation

By Angela Noel

June 13, 2018

Only sixty percent of homes in 1940’s America had indoor flush toilets. Seventy percent had running water. Both amenities reached near ubiquity by 1970, the decade in which I was born, according to The Rise and Fall of American Growth by Robert J. Gordon.

Naturally, I take toilets and showers for granted. My guess is most of us do. But a recent camping trip brought me a new appreciation for the gift of potties and showers amidst the wilds and wonders of nature. Continue reading “Campsite Restrooms: An Appreciation”

The Failure of Words is the Beginning of Truth

By Angela Noel

July 27, 2017

I saw four-hundred-year-old ice fall into the sea. A crack like thunder preceded the calving. Then shards of ice cascaded down the face of the glacier and crashed into Disenchantment Bay, Alaska.

The largest calving glacier in North America, Hubbard is advancing into the ocean. This slow march into the water didn’t seem particularly spectacular to me until I saw it. Now, I understand. Continue reading “The Failure of Words is the Beginning of Truth”

The Secret Life of Trees and What It Means for Humans

By Angela Noel

June 8, 2017

When we first moved into our house I sat in my backyard gazing up at the canopy of tree branches overhead. Two trees, their trunks big enough around that two adults with arms outstretched couldn’t encircle them, blotted the sun. For reasons I cannot explain two names popped into my brain: Erin and Bertie. I told my husband and son the trees had names. Not that I had given them names, but that they already had them–like they’d accepted me into their community as one of their own. (Weird, I know.)

Among the oaks and cottonwoods that dot the rest of my little wooded lot, Erin and Bertie are special. A fact, Suzanne Simard, noted forest ecologist, professor, and TED speaker would find not-at-all surprising. Her work, and those of other researches around the globe, has opened up a greater understanding of the complex and beautiful world of tree interdependence. How trees communicate and contribute to the common good of the ecosystem in which they live has a lot to tell us not only about nature, but about ourselves as well. Continue reading “The Secret Life of Trees and What It Means for Humans”