Define Our Life Thus

Walking home through the cemetery fields, I noticed how brown the grass is — pretty much withered.

That’s a particularly beautiful walk, high enough up above the village that I can see how Hardwick lies in a narrow valley along the river, cradled between forested mountains.

So much of my life often seems defined by absence — the children’s missing father, not enough money, shy of parenting patience, lacking skills to fence in my daughter’s chickens. And yet, here we live, nestled between these mountains, with two sweet cats and three laying hens.

Reminder to self: define by what is, not what isn’t.

Montpelier, 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.


  1. I love this photo – your daughter’s so closely resemble one another, it’s like some sort of magic mirror, showing a reflection of what was and what is.
    Also, as a parent, it was really nice to read that sometimes we all get caught up defining by what is lacking – thanks for the reminder to turn it around.

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