Succor

When I was twenty-eight and living in a hunting camp with my husband, I read Ernie Hebert’s The Dogs of March. The building was heated — well, we attempted heating — with a barrel stove designed for coal. The little insulation in the walls had been gnawed to just about nothing by mice. But this isn’t a story about how young I was then, how naively starry-eyed for so very long, but my first introduction to that word. I was so innocent then I thought the word was out-of-place in that novel.

Much later, my daughter’s kindergarten teacher suggested families acquire the habit of repeating the same family walk, no matter the weather. We had already established this, and likely because my husband and I had walked all through our childhoods. Even now, in a different house, one of the first things the girls and I did — and unconsciously — was try different walks. Where’s a better view? A running creek?

Today, I realized one of our walks has been downtown Montpelier and around the state house — again, in every kind of weather — and in the enormous crowds at the 2017 women’s march.

Walking is succor, a lifting up and an assistance. A widening from the narrowness of ourselves, a reminder of sky above, the eternal steadiness of the earth beneath our feet. The robins nesting in the maples on the state house lawn. Nearly 13 summers ago, on hot July and August days, I nursed my baby beneath those maples while the 6-year-old ate cookies and ran barefoot on the grass.

One repeated the same old mistakes. Each of us has a blind spot in his thinking that defeats him time and again against all teaching and experience and pain.

— Ernest Hebert, The Dogs of March

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Montpelier, VT, April 15

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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