In the backseat yesterday, my daughter’s friend suddenly looked around and asked where I was driving.

I told her I changed my mind; we weren’t headed to Waterbury, Vermont, but were on our way to I-80 and the midwest. In less than a heartbeat, she said, I don’t mind. I’m glad to go anywhere.

Instead, we went to Waterbury, once famed as home of the Vermont State Asylum for the Insane. Bundled in their warmest clothes, the kids and I were there for a procession of illuminated paper lanterns, dancing, live music: primal at its heartbeat.

The girls and I followed at the parade’s end, behind a man who held up a white clipper ship decorated with tiny white lights. Over our heads, a light snow fell from the impermeable darkness. At the end, the girls sprawled in a slushy field and watched the dancers with spinning handfuls of fire.

All the way home, through the night and then brilliantly-lit Stowe, following the familiar road around Elmore Mountain and up the maze of slushy dirt roads home, I thought of that stranger’s arms held over his head, that radiant ship a sailing beacon.

Before going to bed
After a fall of snow
I look out on the field
Shining there in the moonlight
So calm, untouched and white
Snow silence fills my head….

May Sarton, “December Moon”

Waterbury, 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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