A Gift of Sticks, Maybe

Here’s a fantastic use of Facebook: a friend and colleague offers hydrangeas — come thin my patch, dig and carry.

I’ve known this woman longer than I’ve had children, so our conversation, while we dig, winds in and out of family and bits of gossip about the local library scene.

We pack the back of my little silver Toyota with boxes of sticks and fibrous roots, black crumbles of soil. I cradle a fat earthworm in one palm while we talk, then gently return this creature to damp earth. The early, misty morning is fragrant with the unmistakable scent of opened-up soil.

In the afternoon, at home, I plant two long rows of these hydrangeas,  separated by a path down to the woods.

My girls are skeptical of planting what they see as sticks. Really?

Act of faith. And not that extreme. These sticks will grow.

We are suspicious of grace. We are afraid of the very lavishness of the gift.

— Madeline L’Engle, Walking On Water

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Coltsfoot by Molly S.

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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