Interlude of Merriment

My daughters are like me this way: a difficult week? Pack lunch and retreat into the woods.

Yesterday found us hiking along a series of cascades, then walking barefoot through a shallow, boulder-strewn stream. Among mushrooms, we walked on cushy pine needles in a shaded forest. At the end, chilled from swimming in the mountain stream’s pools, my car didn’t start, tossing me that curve with its recurring electrical problem.

In those two hours we spent by the side of a not-well-travelled road, at some point I began laughing at everything humorous and absolutely not-humorous in our lives, verbally listing, and once I began laughing, I laughed so hard I sat down on the graveled roadside. More than any words, my daughters found my laughter exquisitely reassuring.

In times of acute family duress, I’ve laughed with my siblings and father until tears have run down our cheeks. The people I am most aligned with (whether I know them well or not) wield the same two practical tools I return to, over and over: the inherent (and physical) need for comedy and an awe of beauty.

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose.

Henceforth I ask not good-fortune, I myself am good-fortune…

– Walt Whitman, Song of the Open Road, I

Bingham Falls, Stowe, Vermont





By Brett Ann Stanciu

Brett Ann Stanciu lives with her two daughters in Hardwick, Vermont. Her creative nonfiction book, Unstitched: My Journey to Understand Opioid Addiction and How People and Communities Can Heal, will be published by Steerforth Press in September 2021. Her novel about rural life in Vermont, Hidden View, was published in 2015.


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