Marnie Mamminga

Perspective: Sequoia Wisdom

Sep 7, 2020
Simi Luft / Pixabay

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, I sat alone in a Yosemite forest and wept.

My husband and I had been hiking to a major grove of sequoias and were not more than a mile away, when I could go no farther. With my legs like lead and my heart racing, I knew I had to stop, even though to be so close and yet so far broke my heart.

Reluctantly, I told my husband to go on, and I sat down on a fallen log and let the tears fall.  Self-pity and misery were my sole companions.

At some point, however, alone in that awesome silence and solitude, I looked up.

Perspective: You Can Learn A Lot From A Firefly

Jul 22, 2020

It’s been a long time since I have seen the fireflies in such profusion blinking their love light into the gloaming, but perhaps, I was just not looking.

On this warm damp night, I have wandered out to our back yard to check on the status of the moon. Before I can look up, however, I am surprised and delighted to discover a bevy of floating fireflies greeting me in the darkness.

Perspective: We Need A Hug

Jun 1, 2020
Anastasia Vityukova / Unsplash

It’s the hugs I miss most.

Joyous bear hug greetings, gentle squeezes of love, and lingering arm-wrapped farewells. All have disappeared like a loose kite on the breeze since the coronavirus took over in mid-March. And if you’re a hugger, like I am, then you feel the loss of those sweet embraces from family and friends more than your heavy heart can say.

Because my family and I have adhered to medical pandemic protocol, we have only hugged those who live with us, and lucky for me, at least I have a husband to hug.

Perspective: Finding Gifts

Apr 28, 2020
Susan Stephens

“Come look!” announced my husband on an early spring morning over a month ago. “I have a surprise!”

I followed him out to the backyard, and there rising up out of the cold brown earth, were a myriad of green stems with sheathed yellow flowers just beginning to make themselves known.


“Two hundred daffodils!” my husband beamed brightly. “I planted them last fall in honor of our 50th wedding anniversary. Looks like they made it through the winter.”

Perspective: Looking For The Light

Mar 24, 2020
GeorgiaLens / Pixabay

The cardinal comes at dawn.

His spiky silhouette backlit against a copper sky, the bare branches of our backyard woods his amphitheatre.

He is the first one to sing, heralding the coming of a new day.  The moon is still up too, hanging opposite the sunrise, its silver essence shimmering in a sea of pale blue.

Rising early after a fretful night of sleep, I am grateful to have found this moment, for I am looking for the light, and I’m sure you are too.

Perspective: Spelling Bee Wisdom

Feb 10, 2020
Marnie O. Mamminga

The spellers were nervous. And who could blame them? Approximately two dozen 4th and 5th graders lined up on a stage with a gymnasium filled with their peers, parents, and grandparents sitting behind them. 


Perspective: In Search Of Christmas Peace

Dec 18, 2019
Marnie O. Mamminga

“I haven’t found the peace of Christmas yet,” my mother announced one Christmas over 20 years ago. She was in her eighties and still full of vim and vigor, visiting me from Ohio. 


Perspective: Season Of Song

Nov 20, 2019
Marnie O. Mamminga

The toes are tapping, and I am glad of it.

Not one foot, but dozens of them scattered under the semicircle of chairs for the first middle school band concert of the year. Some are on the downbeat, some are on the up beat, but all, mostly, are in sync.

And I am glad of it, not only for the happiness of these tapping toes, but because back in my long ago youth, toe tapping was strictly forbidden at a concert even though every ounce of our young souls wanted to do otherwise.

Perspective: Disappearing Act

Oct 21, 2019
Connie Kuntz / WNIJ

The hummingbirds left first. And it won’t be long before the loons leave too, taking with them their happy, haunting music.

All summer we enjoyed their company on a lake in Northern Wisconsin. And now, these feathered friends and hundreds of other species are leaving on their long journey across the country to as far away as the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico. I wonder where they will find food and rest? How many miles will they cover in a day? Do they press on through the night guided by starlight?

But mostly, I wonder, how many will return?

Perspective: The Unexpected Miracle Of A Spring Night

Apr 30, 2019
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Finally, the windows are open wide. The fragrance of fresh wildflowers and damp earth flow through them, and suddenly, so too does the hooting happiness of a pair of owls singing in our backyard trees.

Perspective: Walking With Wolves

Mar 20, 2019
Marnie O. Mamminga

I am not afraid.   

Though maybe I should be, for I am walking with wolves.  

Perspective: Trashing Our National Parks

Jan 30, 2019
Marnie O. Mamminga

Stars shimmering in a great silence.  Lyrical rivers running over rock beds.  Air so pure and fresh, it takes your breath away.

And the beauty? Well, it is indescribable. All I can say is that it touched the heart of my soul.

That is what I remember most about my trips to three National Parks: Yosemite in California, the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Glacier in Montana.  Three totally different environments, three totally unique experiences.  

Perspective: What Not To Say To The Homeless

Dec 20, 2018
Marnie O. Mamminga

We heard him before we saw him.

“I may be ugly, but I still need help!”  the homeless man shouted good naturedly as he waved his paper  cup in front of the crowd crossing Michigan Ave.

My six-year-old granddaughter and I were on the street corner headed to the Art Institute for her first visit to the Thorne Miniature Rooms.

As we crossed the street, he repeated his self-deprecating plea: “I may be ugly, but I still need help!”

Suddenly, a handsome, well-dressed man in front of me yelled out in a big booming voice, “It’s the Trump economy!! Get a job!!”

Feeding The Hungry

Nov 21, 2018
Courtesy of the Batavia Interfaith Food Pantry

They are lined up outside before the doors open. 

Even if it is cold or rainy, they are there.  


For they are hungry. 

Picnic Pleasures

Aug 15, 2018


Ants. Mosquitoes. Flies. Oh, My!


But other than that, what’s not to like about a picnic? 

Editor's note: Our original interview with Marnie Mamminga was published in June, 2013. The author returned to the WNIJ studios in July, 2018, to add the video excerpt below.

450 miles. That's the distance Marnie Mamminga's family traveled every summer from suburban Chicago to their cabin in northwest Wisconsin.

Mamminga recalls the cabin, and the long journey it took to get there, in her memoir Return to Wake Robin: One Cabin in the Heyday of Northwoods Resorts.

Marnie Mamminga

Feb 7, 2018

Marnie O. Mamminga has been a professional essayist and features writer for more than 20 years.

Her work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and its magazine, Reader’s Digest, The Christian Science Monitor, Lake Superior Magazine, Detroit Free Press Magazine, Midwest Prairie Review, and several Chicken Soup for the Soul books.

A Winter Walk In The Woods

Feb 7, 2018

The morning’s pale lemony light colors the winter’s woods against an aqua sky. Short, snow-covered evergreens stand like so many snowmen under the bare arch of larger forest trees.

Stillness and silence prevail.

Bundled up in long underwear and down outerwear, I hike an isolated forest road at minus 8 degrees. There are no people, no cars, no noise.  Even the wind has abandoned the woods, giving the voices of the singing pines a measure’s rest.

There's a phrase that comes up when discussing Southern literature. You might've heard it:

The South is a place; East, North and West are merely directions.

This will make sense to anyone who has read To Kill A Mockingbird or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. Authors like Harper Lee and John Berendt take you to places with distinct voices, characters and surroundings. You can hear the accents, feel the prejudice, and picture the unique landscape and architecture.