Day 12, Story 12: When Suzy Came to Town

Rosemary Clooney’s “Suzy Snowflake” LP from 1951.

Pulling up to the hotel, Suzy was already exhausted. Thanks to a major snowstorm across the Midwest, she’d been flat out for three days. Of course, the sledding window was small and the snowfall was melting, less than 24 hours later. A sense of futility was snowballing in Suzy’s soul, big time.

Mother Nature’s email wasn’t super clear, as usual, so Suzy was relieved to see the sign in the lobby. It read, “Seasonal Reps,” with an arrow pointing to the ballroom.

“Here we go,” she thought, as she dragged her powder blue roller bag to the barebones check-in table. Suzy noticed dozens more nametags than usual. “Jesus, the Leprechauns are here?” she muttered to herself. 

It was clear that Mother Nature had something big planned, given the insane number of attendees. She’d flown everyone and their imaginary nephew in for this one.

“Hey, Baby New Year. What up, Nian,” Suzy said with a nod as she passed the oddest odd couple ever, one wearing a diaper and the other with teeth like high-quality steak knives. They cordially raised their glasses of champagne as she passed.

Depiction of Nian from “The Story of Nian – a Chinese New Year Folk Tale.”

Typically, it was open seating but this time, seats were assigned by month and grouped by season. Suzy saw 12 long tables that stretched toward the front, where Mother Nature had her own table and was already holding court. “What is this, Hogwarts?” she wondered. 

Of course, The Great Pumpkin was chatting up Mother Nature, up in her face and desperate for legitimacy as usual. “Kiss-ass,” she scoffed.

Suzy scanned the room over to the right for table 12, for December, nestled between tables 11 and one. The frontline December crew hadn’t yet arrived, including her nemesis. She wondered if he’d be at table 12 or assigned to the late fall fam. “Late fall? More like late fools,” she joked to herself. Summer months had been taking more and more from October, pushing the fall months out further and further.

Then from behind her she heard a low crackling sound, like the thick ice of a frozen lake breaking. His laugh sent chills down her spine–and not in a good way.

“Well, Jack Frost, as I live and breathe,” she said, overtly feigning enthusiasm.

He was already drinking his first vodka on the rocks. “Coming in cold as usual, Suzy Snowflake” he sneered. “Honestly, I’m surprised you made it. Then again, that stormfront didn’t amount to much beyond slush, even in Minnesota. Should we start calling you Suzy Sleet?”

Suzy rolled her eyes. “We don’t all have the distinct pleasure of going around killing crops and dreams willy nilly,” she retorted.

Jack Frost drawing by Margaret Ashenbach.

Jack, as usual, only half paid attention. “Look–the fucking sugarplum fairies are here. Bunch of lightweights.” He took a big swig. “They have no business being anywhere near winter.” The ice clinked in his glass as he gestured toward the tulle-clad set.

“God forbid winter have any charms or enjoyment to offer,” replied Suzy, ignoring the sexist implications of his remark. “People certainly aren’t getting any of that from you.” She picked some stray fuzz off the shoulder of her white cashmere peplum sweater and let it float to the busy mish mash of hotel carpet.

“Whatever, goody two shoes,” said Jack. “Shouldn’t you be tap-tap-tapping on some kid’s windowpane?”

She laughed, hiding her annoyance, “Talk to Rosemary Clooney.” It’s not like Suzy wrote that damn song. Jack knew full well she hated it and had barely anything to do with it. He brings it up when he’s really trying to get under her skin. She wouldn’t let that happen.

A breeze swept across the ballroom. That was Mother Nature’s gentle but very real signal. Time to take their seats. To Suzy’s dismay, she discovered that she and Jack were seated right next to each other at the middle of their table. 

Old Man Winter took his place at the front, of course, with Tomten by his side and a couple of elves across from them. The old boys club looked exhausted as they’d traveled in from the North Pole and Scandinavia. 

Plus, Old Man Winter had been less predictable lately, skipping town when expected to stay and showing up in places like Texas. The wear and tear was beginning to show.

Suzy waved and jumped up as her favorite rep and one of her oldest friends, The Snow Queen, strode up and took her place on Suzy’s other side. They clasped hands and started to catch up as the spring and summer reps continued settling in. 

Lady Midday and The May Queen performatively hugged before finally finding their spots. “Bitches in heat,” said The Snow Queen, nodding in their direction. They chuckled. Man, did Suzy love her.

Autumnal steward of barley harvests and benders, John Barleycorn was already slurring his cockney accent when he shouted, much louder than necessary, “Stop faffin’ about you twats!” We snickered. The carefree attitudes of the warmer season reps would never not chafe the cold weather crowd. Especially these days.

John Barleycorn (found on StoryArchaeology)

Finally, Mother Nature stood. The air was still and the silence, instant.

“Thank you all for coming on shorter than typical notice,” she began. “It truly warms my heart to see you all together. All four seasons, all 12 months, a full seasonal bounty indeed.”

“Ugh,” Suzy thought to herself, brow deeply furrowed. “Why do hearts always need to be ‘warmed?’”

And right on cue The Snow Queen leaned over.  “Uh—implicit bias much?” she said out of the corner of her mouth. They fist bumped under the table in solidarity. 

Mother Nature continued, always a striking sight with her glowing ebony skin, innately regal presentation, head held high, “I’ll get right to it. You all know why you’re here. We’re facing an urgent climate crisis.” The “t” on climate and “s’s” in crisis were so sharp they could cut glass. 

“What you may not know is how we are going to combat it. The short answer? It’s going to take all of us. And I mean all of us.”

She explained, “A crisis of this magnitude calls for unprecedented measures. I’m using my executive powers to circumvent the seasonal caucus and infighting that has stalled progress for too long. It’s no longer a choice. It’s our natural and moral obligation to act.”

“No shit,” said Jack under his breath. Meanwhile, the spring and summer tables stirred. To us it was obvious. To them, this was a highly sensitive topic.

Mother Nature paused thoughtfully, gazing across the room, table to table, making intense eye contact with as many reps as possible. “We can do this! We have a plan. A plan in which each and every one of you has an essential role to play.”

She took a beat and adjusted her notes before diving into the details.

“Punxsutawney Phil, from you we need an eight-year stretch of consecutive declarations of six more weeks of winter. No letting up.”

Everyone gasped. “Eight years. Holy shit!” squealed The Snow Queen. 

“Yas queen!” Suzy replied. Wide-eyed and hopeful, the two exchanged huge smiles of excitement.

Record scratch.

“Suzy, we’re going to need you to step it up, especially in the Northeastern United States and across Siberia,” said Mother Nature with a directness that felt like a punch in the face.

Suzy’s cheeks turned from alabaster to crimson. “Step it up?” she thought. “Tell Jack Frost to step the fuck out of my way! Tell Heat Miser to step it down!” A flurry of angry thoughts clouded her mind. It took every measure of composure Suzy had to not flake out.

Across the room, she saw Heat Miser slowly turn his smug face in Suzy’s direction to taunt her. But just then, Mother Nature continued, “Heat Miser—that means we’ll need your full cooperation. We’re placing some common-sense limits on your range as of today.” 

His head swiveled back and his face melted into a deep frown. Suzy felt her shoulders drop and spirit rise. 

“Hell yeah,” whispered the Snow Queen.

“Screw that guy,” said Jack Frost, in a rare note of camaraderie.

“That’s right,” Mother Nature said, squelching a sea of murmurs. “This burden does not only fall on the shoulders of the fall and winter reps. Balance must be restored throughout the year. I think we all know that. Each of you must be prepared to stretch far beyond your comfort zone. It’s crunch time, legends.”

Turning again toward table 12, Mother Nature addressed someone who would really rather go without mention, ever. 

Corn Maiden by Gerald Dawavendewa

“Tomten,” she said, “we know you’re really comfortable with the whole Christmas vibe, but you could be creating some spring magic as well. I’m asking you to serve as a seasonal bridge, a peace keeper. Help Blue Corn Maiden with vegetable gardens or something. Get creative.” 

Already barely visible due to his small stature, Tomten sunk down in his chair, extremely uncomfortable with the attention and the idea. This is a guy whose whole identity is built on laying low. 

Mother Nature turned to tables four and five, April and May. “Your work is artful as always. What we need from you now is patience. Bloom times have been creeping up and it’s throwing off the entire progression. We know you mean well, but remember–spring shines brightest after a long winter.”

Suzy saw Blue Corn Maiden nod in agreement. “She’s so damn cool,” thought Suzy. Blue Corn Maiden, of Hopi fame, was pretty much the only springtime rep who had her respect. She’d been through more than anyone, yet knew her purpose and truly served the people. Suzy saw that Blue Corn Maiden never got her due, much like herself.

In Suzy’s case, for what felt like eons, she dealt with Jack Frost dominating the entire winter precipitation game, giving no credit to her at all and, a while back, forcing her to attempt a PR campaign that backfired. 

That song she’d disavowed was supposed to elevate her brand, and take her rightful share of the winter limelight from Jack, but all it did was cause people to take her even less seriously. But maybe, just maybe, “be an obnoxious jerk” would no longer be a winning strategy in this new era—for Jack Frost, Heat Miser, or anyone else. 

Finally, Mother Nature turned her attention to summer. The June, July, and August reps all straightened in their chairs. Among them were flower fairies of all kinds and lightning sprites in various hues. Little Miss Sunshine sat with hands resting in her lap, appearing as innocent as can be in her yellow gingham dress, in contrast to the formidable Lady Midday, that brutal, Slavic summer demon who fancies herself a crop crusader. Heat Miser, as usual, seemed sweaty and nervous.

Lady Midday (Poludnitsa) found on Myths and Folklore Wiki.

“You know I admire your commitment, your enthusiasm, your drive. People love you and find joy in your season’s embrace.” Everyone else was grossed out by the coddling but also on the edge of their seats at this point.

“But your strong numbers, all those record-setting temperatures… they’ve turned the balance of the seasons into a winner-take-all contest. We’ve forgotten that the seasons all share a common goal: supporting the cycle of life. 

Fall, winter, and even spring shrink each year. Wide swaths of the earth are parched. Thirst and hunger are growing. As ice recedes, tides rise and disaster unfolds.

You are hurting your own bottom line as the glories of your season fade. Flowers and trees need rain. Beaches need sand. Sunny days need shade. People need relief.

I’m calling on you to scale back for the good of all—yourselves included.”

“‘Bout time,” whispered the Snow Queen, heartened by the much-needed and rather momentous call-out.

“Damn right,” said Suzy, amazed.

“This better stick or we’re screwed,” added Jack.

A bubbling energy infused the crowd. The chatter rose when, unable to raise a hand, The Great Pumpkin stood to ask a question.

“Oh gourd, now is not the time, GP,” said Suzy. “Get ready to cringe to death, everyone.” Both The Snow Queen and Jack Frost stifled their laughter.

“You know I don’t just show up for just anyone,” The Great Pumpkin began, as if that mattered. “I just want to say how great your plan is and that I will do everything pumpkinly possible to help. You’ve been an incredible leader, Mother Nature, and I want to thank you. With you as our champion, we can tackle the climate crisis once and for all!” 

He turned his giant orange head to face the rest of the reps and tried to instigate a round of applause, eliciting just a smattering of awkward claps.

“Shut up!” shouted a rowdy John Barleycorn, to some laughs and some disapproving looks. This interjection served as a release, and the reps all burst back into their discussions, positive energy percolating along with uncertainty.

Everyone felt the wind pick up in the ballroom. A napkin fluttered up and snagged on The Great Pumpkin’s stem, Blue Corn Maiden’s silky hair blew back in a most glamorous way, and Peter Rabbit’s nose twitched to catch a scent carried in. 

Then, all was still and quiet again. Mother Nature continued, “You know what else is at stake here? All holiday traditions, which innately depend on connection to the seasons.”

The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren

This point hit home. The elves exchanged worried glances, sugarplum fairies held hands, and a small coven of witches tapped their brooms on the floor, their way of applauding in agreement. 

Somehow the energy in the ballroom had changed, infused with an aura of shared understanding. Mother Nature concluded her remarks, and servers emerged with their platters, pitchers of water, and wine bottles.

Suzy felt something like—though she’d never admit this—proverbial warmth. She looked around at all the crazy souls gathered.

She considered their collective endangerment, mind-boggling array of quirks, shared sense of vulnerability, and centuries of ups and downs, and it all caused her to soften a bit. Even toward The Great Pumpkin. Even Heat Miser and yes, Jack Frost.

He, too, seemed to have shifted.

“I really think we can do this, you know,” he said to Suzy as they ate their dinner of so-so chicken marsala, over-cooked broccoli, and rolls.

“You know what? Me too,” said Suzy. 

Later that evening at the hotel bar, Suzy did something no one could have seen coming even on the clearest, crispest winter day. She performed her song. Yes, that song. 

As they recognized the retro sound of the opening note, the entire audience shrieked with delight and began shouting encouragement. “Oh hell yeah!” cried an ecstatic Blue Corn Maiden.

Reps of every season rushed over to the karaoke stage and joined in as Suzy belted out the lyrics.

The Snow Queen lifted her glass of ice wine and turned to Jack Frost. “Here’s to anything being possible, after all.”

“…If you want to make a snowman

I’ll help you make one, one, two, three

If you want to take a sleigh ride

Whee! The ride’s on me

Here comes Suzy Snowflake

Look at her tumblin’ down

Bringing joy to ev’ry girl and boy

Suzy’s come to town…”

The end

Note: All 12 stories can be found here. Happy holidays, however and whatever you celebrate!

Day 2, Story 2: The Last Evergreen

Hey, come on in! Thank you for stopping by tonight. That wind is a fright. So glad you made it.

Look, you’re covered in dust. Go brush yourself off in the mudroom. Then you can rinse your face in the kitchen. You’ll feel better. There you go.

Here, have a seat, child. I made us some tea. I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, and there are some things I’ve been meaning to tell you. Things I want you to know. I’ll get to it.

If I don’t wake up tomorrow, Christmas morning–Lord willing–or sometime next week or in the new year, I will have said my piece. And that means I can go in peace. After a century on this planet. Heck, imagine that. One hundred years.

Now, to you, they’re more like a myth. But to me, they were part of life. The evergreens. 

Yes, I should explain. Technically I’m talking about conifer trees here. They had pointy needles instead of the flat, broad leaves. Both a leaf and a needle did the same job, really. But needles played the long game, all year long. Built for ice, snow, and wind. Holding on.

Since they were green in winter, come Christmastime, heck, we’d cut down small trees from a farm and bring ’em indoors. It’s true! To brighten up the dark time of year. A symbol of eternal life. Isn’t that ironic? Well, back then it was tradition.

Sure doesn’t feel like Christmas Eve without a Christmas tree. But having you here with me sure helps. 

Anyway, it wasn’t just in winter. Evergreens were wonderful to be around, really, in every season. I remember the smell of dried cedar tips on a summer hike. Heck, it was heavenly! Always gave my brain a little lift. Kept me going.

There were so many kinds, too. And I loved all of ‘em–firs, pines, cypress, junipers, cedars, heck, I mean all of ‘em. 

Growing up, my favorite was a Colorado blue spruce out front, right by my bedroom window. It was powdery blue, which seemed gentle, but then the needles were so sharp. That tree was planted when I was born so I guess you could say we grew up together.

The evergreens were important. They made lots of life possible, and kept it protected. Especially in winter when the other trees were bare, they were homes and food to animals. There were moths and butterflies that laid eggs on red cedar branches–they sought ‘em out every year. Huge ponderosa pines were shelters for elk and bears. All kinds of creatures depended on ‘em. Big and small.

Conifers had cones. It’s there in the name. Now, they really fascinated me. Cones were really capsules for seeds, protecting ‘em until the time was right to take root. Heck, you really couldn’t engineer a better system if you tried! Nature will outsmart us every time. ‘Course, some cones had pollen, not seeds. But that’s beside the point. 

Cones grew on branches in the spring. Some were like woody pineapples, or carved flowers. Some were spiky grenades, defending those seeds. But there were others, heavy and sappy and shaped like eggs–perfect for throwing if you didn’t mind sticky hands. Small cones were like berries, just waiting to be picked. Isn’t that something? Heck, I thought so. Each type of tree had its own way. Just amazing. 

I especially loved seeing the fir cones that sat on top of branches like little owls. Other cones hung like ornaments, which always reminded me of Christmas, even in the worst heat of summer.

When I was little, I collected cones. Wow, did I collect ‘em. Heck, I had hundreds, and counting, but then it was outlawed and you had to leave ‘em where they lay. Of course I understood. Everyone knew I loved ‘em, too. They called me “Pinecone Girl,” can you believe that? It annoyed the heck out of me because pines are only one dang kind of hundreds of dang conifers. 

My uncle taught me a lot about ‘em. He fought wildfires for a few years when I was real young, and I’ll never forget it–he once brought me back a sugar pine cone he saved. Heck, it was over two feet long! Best gift I ever got. I wrapped it in a blanket and carried that thing around like a newborn. I was so dang proud.

The thing is, a cone was supposed to be a kind of safeguard. For the next generation of trees. I used to think about those trees, doing their darndest to survive against all kinds of threats and, still, they put a lot of energy into growing those cones. Not for show. To support life! And not their own.

Heck, if only humans had done the same, I know. I know it. 

I remember when we started losing the giants. First Phalanx went, the biggest pine of ‘em all. Then General Sherman,  after 3,000 years. Heck just imagine that. Hurts my heart even now. Then it was the Centurion and Menara. People mourned around the world. It was more than trees we lost.  I was still a young woman then. 

Wasn’t just one thing that did the evergreens in, you know. It was a long run of dominoes, like the kind my grandfather had. Each falls a bit faster than the one before. There was no more snow to protect their roots in winter and water ‘em in the spring. Trees grew weaker and more vulnerable to invasive beetles and those beetles grew bigger and faster as the world warmed. There was fungus and disease, all sped up by the warming that turned forests into darn petri dishes and tinder boxes. One change tipped into the next until all the evergreens came down. Heck, they brought a whole lot with ‘em. I felt nothing but doomed for a long time.

And you know what? For a while, I never thought about what I could do because I was so focused on what I lost. And heck, the evergreens were one of so many things lost. To me, they were more than trees.

Of course, I had my daughter. Your grandmother. And I even thought about you then, long before you were born. I started to feel like “doomed” just wasn’t an option. Struggle, oh heck yes. Inevitable! Doom, no.  Not for me and not for you. 

You know I did try. I want you to know that. For a while, I used seeds from my cones to plant trees way out back in the forest. What was left of it anyway. Through trial and, well, many errors, I figured out ways to protect the saplings. They didn’t survive but each tree did a little better than the one before. 

Heck, the last evergreen I planted was four feet tall when we left. Besides all the mulching and the netting, I planted it near a granite ridge to try and stop it from burning and I set up a rain barrel to water it–’course it wasn’t full very often or very long. Then, heck, the fire came through. We lost everything. Moved on and never looked back, just trying to get by. 

Good question. How do you carry on when everything is falling apart? Well, I’d say you know this about as well as anyone with all you’ve seen in your life up to now, in the world you came into. I’d say, you mourn what’s lost but you also grasp what’s there. You find even, just, that one thing–whatever makes you feel alive. You grow it. You appreciate the beauty of it. Whatever the heck it is. Could be a song. Could be feeding people, or making ‘em laugh, like your mama always does. Heck, I saw a miracle in a pinecone, something most people probably never thought about. You find your path toward something you love, and you take it. Away from “doomed.”  It’s simple, but it’s not easy when things are falling apart. Though if you do find that path, you might see that other people want to come along.

And here’s what I need you to know. 

After a few years of service, my uncle got sick from the smoke. His firefighting days were over so he gave me his lockbox. Standard issue. A little beat up, but sturdy. Made of steel. He figured I could use it to store my cone collection. And heck, that’s what I did. 

This sounds crazy, I know. But what if–what if those cones are out there? Buried in the ash and earth? Steel doesn’t burn easy. Heck, that was the whole point! So it’s possible. Heck. It really is.

Could you go back there, where the old house was, and take a look around for me? I wish I could. Heck! The wind alone would take me out. There’s nothing out there to break it. I’m asking you to carry my little bit forward. The seeds or maybe just the story. Either way, I hope some good can come from it.

Thank you, child. That’s the best dang Christmas gift I’ve ever had the fortune to receive. Well, it’s at least a tie with that sugar pine cone!

Tell you what. If it’s out there and–Lord willing–you find it, well, I know you’ll take good care of that cone, and the rest of ‘em, when I’m gone.

Heck, I know you will.

The end (unless we act)

Note: Because I don’t think my young nephews, who are following these stories, should carry the weight of imagining all Christmas trees gone from the earth, I whipped up another more kid-friendly take on the concept of The Last Evergreen. You can find it here!

Support Save the Redwoods League.

(Note: Remaining holiday stories can be found here as they are released each day through 12/24.)

Autism as superpower: Ode to the Gretas and Stellas

Ableist people insist that Greta Thunberg is a puppet. If you ask me, after I catch my breath lost from laughing, it’s not possible. Not rooted in reality.

It’s also deeply insulting and misguided to assume a lack of agency in this bright and courageous girl.

The doubters haven’t the faintest hint of a clue about the nature of autism or Aspies in particular. Right off the bat, I’m reminded of a not-uncommon autistic profile that includes strong aversion to external direction, demands and certainly outright commands, from others. There is an innate drive for autonomy at all times. “Aut” being the key syllable.

And by pure coincidence, I’m sure, a memory just played out in my mind, in which toddler Stella repeatedly grabs her coat to leave during our mommy-and-me-type music class.

We should all know by now that each person with autism is unique. The level of diversity is such that autistic people can be more different from each other than from neurotypical people. Yet there are some traits that show up again and again.

Here are just five commonly seen autistic traits that can be real advantages. And within them are clear reasons that the haters are wrong about Greta.

1 – Just the facts: Truth-seeking mindset

Autistic people are less affected by cognitive biases than their neurotypical counterparts. Able to disregard how information is presented or regarded and weigh the factual merits, some autistic people show innate talent in cutting through the noise and honing in on the truth. Peer pressure holds little to no sway, which is handy in situations where unwarranted hysteria or complacency sets in.

We see this in Greta, with her laser-like focus on the science and tireless, repeated insistence that our leaders act on it. She doesn’t get lost in conjecture. When challenged, she asks the contrarians to present their own carbon budget, their own data. But they don’t do that, because they are not basing their pushback on scientific truths.

As people retreat into ideological bubbles, cognitive biases run rampant. More than ever, we need people like Greta to keep us honest.

2 – Passion fueled: A powerful drive to learn 

Autistic people frequently immerse themselves fully into topics they love, areas of passionate interest, which can become the root of unparalleled skills, knowledge or creative expression. Traditionally framed as pathology, with terms like “obsessions” and “fixations,” these wells of expertise can be drawn upon for inspiration and education of others.

Obviously, Greta’s activism springs from passion, not puppetry. That’s why millions follow in her footsteps. To her credit, instead of simply giving in to despair over the grim outlook we face, she plunged into the science and worked to understand the crisis and proposed solutions.

As Barry M. Prizant explains in Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism, for neurotypical and autistic people alike, a strong interest “feeds a basic neurological need to be engaged, to appreciate beauty, and to experience positive emotion.” Before her activism, Greta rarely left home and had no motivation. Her strong interest, in climate change and environmental protection, connected her with her purpose and gave her new life.

Screenshot 2019-09-25 10.55.20

I’ve seen embarrassingly shallow and ignorant questions asked in response to Greta’s speeches and posts. Questions that could be thoroughly answered by a quick Google search. I’m glad there are minds like Greta’s to hold us to a higher standard.

3 – Sharp perception: Faster paths to solutions

Autistic people may have a perceptual upper hand. In a study by the University of Montreal and Harvard University, autistic and neurotypical individuals were asked to complete patterns in the Raven’s Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM), to measure “hypothesis-testing, problem-solving and learning skills.”

Per the study’s lead author, “Some critics argued that autistics would be unable to complete the RSPM because of its complexity, yet our study shows autistics complete it as efficiently and have a more highly developed perception than non-autistics.”

Despite the complexity of climate science, Greta is able to process, synthesize and develop clear conclusions. Though, she still consults with experts to ensure accuracy. Because she’s a #baller.

4 – No nonsense: Direct communication

In a world full of bullshit, sharp, clarifying voices are incredibly valuable. Perhaps that’s why, more and more, the direct communication style associated with autism is being recognized as a strength in the workplace, given the proper fit. You may not want this quality in, say, a customer service rep. But you probably would benefit from it in the mechanic who spots an issue in the airplane you’re about to board.

Greta doesn’t mince words. She is as crystal clear as it gets. Yet, clouded by ideology or anger or whatever it is that causes grown adults to toss insults at a teenager who wants to save the planet, neurotypical people read into her words for the hidden meaning or agenda. There is none. That’s not how autistic minds work.

5 – On point: Detail-oriented precision 

Research, led by Simon Baron-Cohen, suggests that excellent attention to detail is part of the cognitive style of autism. While, through the lens of disorder, emphasis is placed on social and other information missed by autistic people, it’s important to recognize that they often glean highly specific information overlooked by others.

Not only does Greta get to the point, she includes salient details and references that directly support her communication, presenting her concerns with solidity and clarity that are sorely lacking in the greater public conversation about the climate crisis.

Greta is living, breathing proof of the need for neurodiversity in leadership. I’m so proud of her, and Stella, for being who they are. I hope that more and more people realize that by being unapologetically themselves, neurodivergent people can live more vibrant lives while teaching those around them and contributing immense value to society as whole.

(I didn’t like that damn music class, anyway. Thanks, Stella.)