Broken Down Stuff

Vermont Public Radio is filled with cheery news. Worst Super Bowl. Lousiest State of the Union Address.

More locally, the Honda buried at the neighbors has fully emerged. Where the headlights should be are two gaping holes, the lights themselves on top of the car.

My 20-year-old sets her gas cap on top of her car and drives off in a rush. When she discovers this, I send her to the auto parts store, where she suspects the guys behind the counter are laughing at her. Why not? I ask. I laughed at you. Give me a little mirth, girl. She laughs, too, delighted the cap is nine dollars. What a deal I got, she says.

I resist pointing out that a better deal would have been not losing it. I’ve gotten a nine-dollar laugh out of this one.

It’s February. This is the time of year when things get worse in Vermont, but also better. I’ve lived here a long time, and generally I like living in Vermont. I actually like it very much, despite the things in Vermont that aren’t cool but are hardly endemic to Vermont—isolation and intergenerational poverty and the increasing bent in American life to see the world in narrowed vision.

This is the time of year when  cabin fever begins to creep in with a kind of communal silliness. We are all together in this. Even folks who foray out to Florida or California, winter is long, and then longer, and then even longer.

February marks the time of both weeping and giggling. The light floods back, more every day, crazy-making. Spring may be far off, but the scent is in the air.


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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