Summer Sustenance

Swimming in the lake last night until the children were shivering and laughing, the rosy sunset spilling over the still water, I imagined myself like the black bears around us, storing not calories but summer’s barefoot warmth, the ease of lying on the sand, the way you might swim with your eyes at the lake’s surface, all that water stretching from shore to shore, filled with the teeming mysteries of animal, vegetable and mica-flecked rocky life.

An acquaintance once gave me a piece of advice: if I wanted to change my life, do one or two changes well, and see how that spins things around. In those toddler-raising days, I chose two things: I baked our family’s bread and learned to knit. O, once upon the time as a very young woman, I teased and mocked the domestic, little knowing its ancient power and life-carrying grace. Once upon a time, too, I brushed off August swimming as frivolity, back in those days when I chopped my life into pieces, ranked weeding the garden above sand between the girls’ toes, misunderstanding how that lake nourishes our human hunger.

…Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.

– Robert Frost, “October”

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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.

4 comments

  1. I loved the line on the ” sand between the girls’ toes” 🙂 It reminded me how my 6 year old boy takes off his socks at night before bed (if he had them), and picks in between the toes, and I ask: what are you doing, and he says: “picking out the toe boogers!”

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