Thistles, Hemp, Coreopsis

Rain moves in; the heat moves out. I get up from my desk and put on a long-sleeved shirt. My older daughter and I — just the two of us — make pesto and spread it over a pizza with broccoli she slices. She looks at the pizza before she bakes it and says, Garden pizza.

Swimming holds no appeal. Instead, in the evening, we walk up a long dirt road heading out of Hardwick. I follow her into an overgrown pasture. She hands me her phone and has me photograph her in a field of Scottish thistles. She wades shoulder-deep into the prickles and purple flowers, and the memory of traipsing through forests and meadows behind her as a girl child returns to me. Those summers she and her best friends were obsessed with false hellebore as an ingredient for soup-making in her outdoor kitchen. Don’t mind the snails, she tells me. Let’s keep going.

As here’s a few lines from Wendell Berry’s The Hidden Wound I kept thinking about, as I drove to Middlebury on back roads, wondering if all these new fields of hemp might positively help to reshape Vermont’s economy….

A true and appropriate answer to our race problem, as to many others, would be a restoration of our communities—it being understood that a community, properly speaking, cannot exclude or mistreat any of its members. This is what we forgot during slavery and the industrialization that followed, and have never remembered. A proper community, we should remember also, is a commonwealth: a place, a resource, and an economy.

Cultivated and wild in my garden. Photo by Molly S.

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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