Bog Trip

No school for 13-year-old, day off for 19-year-old, no snow yet, and November’s scant light: I fold up my laptop and, impromptu, declare we’ll visit Chickering Bog.

We follow a path through the woods, our boots brushing through fallen maple and ash and cherry leaves, then through a stand of tamarack where the dirt path is scattered with tiny gold needles. On the easy walk, the girls chattered, moving quickly against the damp, the three of them in their black down jackets and myself in turquoise. We’re not far from the world from houses and cars, yet the forest folds around us. I’ve been walking in various New England forests since I was a child, and although this particular path isn’t familiar, the woods are — filled with both that allure of what’s around that next bend or behind that glacial erratic? and, simply, the woods’ loveliness.

The path leads up to what’s more properly a fen. The boardwalk takes us near the middle where the girls find cranberry-red carnivorous pitcher plants. Beneath our boots lies the thousands-of-years-old mysteries of peat. And over our heads, all that sky.

A lake is a landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is Earth’s eye; looking into which the Beholder measures the depth of his own nature.

— Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Calais, 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. What a beautiful woodland language- den and carnivorous plants (!) – I’d like to walk in that wood and see them all. (And I will look up ‘fen’!) thanks for sharing the wander.

  2. Beautiful post. I love Graham Swift’s, “Waterland”, it’s a book that has stayed with me, years after reading it.

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