sometime in late March, collage

My daughters and I place bets on when the snow in the garden will completely disappear. The stakes? Yet to be determined….

End of March: either the dusty or snowy or rainy season in Vermont. The back roads are miserable, rutted-mud driving. In this season, I no longer take the narrow dirt roads through Woodbury and Calais, that long slow rise (or fall) above #10 Pond. Instead, I drive along paved Route 100, road of my past years. Over the highways hang clouds of dry road sand and salt, rising like our Vermont-esque version of insect clouds. The roads wind between the mountains and along the rivers — ancient traveling paths I follow on my way to that long-ago sea of Lake Champlain.

I hang the bedsheets to dry on the clothesline, snapping in the breeze, teach my daughter to play euchre. We read in the evenings. I’m awake before dawn, drinking coffee and talking to the cats and wondering if I’m heading down the crazy woman path…. I decide to paint my bedroom blue.

Evenings, the light lingers in the sky now. I show where I intend to plant two oak trees this spring. With a bit of a shock, my 13-year-old realizes she’ll never climb these trees as a child. Why plant them? she asks. I give her the only answer I know: Because.

This morning, I heard a dove cooing.

You that lose nothing
Know nothing.

— W. S. Merwin

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. To paraphrase another phrase: “the most altruistic thing a person can do is plant a tree who’s shade you will never sit in.” Good luck with the oaks.

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