Magic Trick

Like a great joke, a few more inches of snow arrived on April Fool’s Day. By afternoon, however, the day evolved to a breezy sunniness, brisk but radiant. I walked with writer Natalie Kinsey-Warnock to her car in the Woodbury School’s dirt parking lot. It’s Woodbury — the village built in a swamp — and, for that moment, there’s nowhere I’d rather be. In the treetops, blackbirds sang crazily. Why not? It’s Vermont spring.

Natalie shared stories with the school kids today, and at one point, I couldn’t figure out what she was headed — how did a 1865 steamboat catastrophe in the Mississippi River figure into rural Vermont?

Then, abruptly, like whisking an indigo rabbit from a top hat, the story shimmered. It’s as though Natalie unfurled one of her grandmother’s handstitched quilts, and the connections between the history’s enormity and this woman, and these children and their own place in history, lie visible as much as can anything can be seen in history’s rough beauty, the concealed pieces teasingly beckoning.

I’m the librarian, the hostess of this event, the timekeeper to move this along, make sure the kids have time to grab their coats and catch the school bus, but for these moments I’m merely me, surrounded by these rapt children, loving this particular story.

Oh, the long days of circling to sow and reap,
but, O, those few days on the river each year.

— Leland Kinsey, from “Northern Traverse”

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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.

4 comments

  1. I met Natalie in Craftsbury Common many years ago when my 17-year-old was a toddler. Natalie was giving a reading of Nora’s Ark at the bookstore. The wee one and I were doing a walkabout in the village while my husband played baseball nearby. We still have the signed book—much loved and often-read. That day is seared in all of our memories because Ryan got a hit (maybe a double even?) off the pitcher Spaceman Bill Lee, who had long-ago pitched for the Red Sox. (Nevermind that Bill was probably 75, and possibly a little tipsy!)

    18 degrees here this morning, and we had some snow dusting yesterday too. Good old April.

  2. Good old April is right. 17 degrees here this morning, but now sunny and the icicles have fallen off the roof’s edge. That’s progress of a kind, I suppose.

    Thanks for sharing the Nora’s Ark story…. and reminding me that baseball will return to Vermont 🙂

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