Breakfast with a Stranger

On this Thanksgiving morning, a dream of our house burning wakes me. In the haze of my dream, I’m first insistent my daughters leave, their two cats found and taken to the neighbors. My laptop. Then there’s an odd pause, where I’m alone in the house, as if what next? what else?

A former sugarmaker who burned countless cords of wood on a 14′ long arch — wood stove user — and firewoman to seven enormous burn piles when I left our old house — I’m intimately familiar with the curl and lick of fire, of its wicked smartness.

I wake, happy to be in our warm house, one cat hungrily biting my bare toes, the other nuzzling my cheek, my daughters sleeping. Downstairs, a pecan pie waits, uncut, on the kitchen table.

Yesterday, I met an incredibly accomplished writer in the Hardwick diner, and here’s a snippet from our conversation over coffee and tea and the diner’s savory shredded hashbrowns.

Despite all the irritating experiences around Thanksgiving that happens when families get together, there’s also moments when we’re all sitting together and eating together and someone is telling a story, and you think how great it is that we’re all together hearing these stories together, and then living stories together….


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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