Tiny Treasure

A little boy, maybe six, came into the library yesterday with his hand cupped around some precious thing. I had propped the door open to let in the warm September sunlight and a few stray flies. His short hair sweat-soaked, he wore a t-shirt so large it nearly covered his knees.

He laid a crumpled bird shell near my laptop and asked me to keep it safe. I found it, he said by explanation.

The boy was supposed to be somewhere else, and we heard an adult outside calling his name. On his way out, his hand hovered over an apple on my desk, a yellow-skinned fruit with a few dark blemishes I had picked from a wild tree that afternoon, walking to the post office.

I told him it wasn’t sweet, as I lifted the apple and handed it to him.

September’s such a quiet month, with the cricket songs slowly spinning quieter. Wordlessly, he considered, and then he took the apple and disappeared into the sunlight again.

I wondered if the boy would return for his treasure. He did.

Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions…. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers.

– Peter Matthiessen

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Nichols Ledge, Woodbury, 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.

4 comments

  1. My goodness, Brett, I read this and I have this quiet crying nostalgia for Vermont in September, and last September when my boy and I spent hours of our long days in creeks and waterfalls looking for frogs, and sunflowers by the small musty library, and Green Mountains turning red.. There is is such a quiet slowness about Vermont which is lacking in most other places.

  2. That’s so interesting to have you notice that quiet, too. It’s almost like the wildness of summer is slowly spinning down now…. Don’t be too nostalgic. Vermont’s really a tough place to live in some months.

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