Light and Shadow

While doing errands in Barre, Vermont, today, my younger daughter groaned when she saw a huge new building. More stuff. Where does it come from? Like everyone else, we’re consuming our share of stuff, coming home with a case of paper, a metal leaf rake, and the eternal grocery shopping.

As if to contrast, all afternoon we’ve been outside in this glorious sunlight, readying our piece of world for winter: washing windows, slashing perennials, my rearranging of the woodshed. When the girls disappeared to bake an apple pie, I stood back and admired my woodshed, crammed full with ash and maple, drying incrementally yet steadily.

In autumn, by afternoon’s end, shadows and cold creep in. I yanked out the frost-killed squash vines today, left the sunflower heads for the birds. The wood stove is likely lit for the duration. Our kitchen greets visitors with spicy cinnamon and baking butter.

The roadside plants go right on growing. Everything is fulfilling its part in the whole. Such is life – and of such are the realities of life. Harmony comes in understanding things on their own terms, and in a compassionate and humorous acceptance of the way they fulfill their roles.

– Stewart Holmes and Chimyo Horioka, Zen Art for Meditation


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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