On a late afternoon, I walked out of the Montpelier Library and down the street. The trees along the street were shedding their pale yellow leaves in a balmy, golden light; the sidewalks were busy with children, the afternoon commute already inching its way home.

I walk this way frequently, and always, at one particular place, in front of the stately Montpelier Inn, I remember one evening I stood there, many years ago, with my baby daughter on my back. It was late October then, although I don’t remember any cold. Instead, I remember swaying from foot to foot, already habituated to holding a baby – in my arms or on my back – and watching the twilight creep in, the day’s pale light slowly passing to dusk.

I remember that afternoon-slash-evening as one of the longest pauses in my adult life, waiting for someone who never appeared. Later, I realized my message had gotten lost along the way.

It’s odd, how even in the sunniest and lightest moments of our lives, there’s the past we keep walking through – and I do keep walking, every time, heading back into the busyness of my life – this afternoon, at least, graced with that lovely autumn light.

The trees go on burning
Without ravage of loss or disorder.

From Donald Hall’s “Letter In Autumn”



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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