10,000 Years of Pollen: Storyline

An expert in New England’s ancient forests shares the story of taking a core sample from a pond not far from my library — easily within a few hours’ walk — and extracting 10,000-years-worth of planetary history. 10,000 years of pollen!

I’m standing in the dark in the back, while a few latecomers step in, carrying the cold on their coats, kicking snow from their boots. I’m also coincidentally near the hot tea, which I urge my guests to take.

10,000 years. His chart graphs the fluctuation of trees in this plot of Vermont — the persistence of beech, rise of rock maple. Exquisitely, I think of a larch not far from the library, how cool and welcoming that forest is in the summer, how brilliantly yellow its autumn needles. The extremely large view and the absolute specific.

Afterwards, finally home with my girls who are in an especially good humor, I think of the UVM museum my youngest and I just visited, chockfull of very ancient human artifacts, a variation of pollen — and in particular the arrowheads found along Lake Champlain. Whose hands made these?

Still socked in by winter… no pollen in the wild wind in the conceivable future…

IMG_4786
Specific child, specific 5 degree day, Burlington, February, 2019.

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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