And then I found….

I dropped off three 14-year-old girls in the rain to rake leaves, seriously pursuing their entrepreneurial odd-job endeavor, then parked my little silver Toyota along the road and walked.

November: the season when the cold clouds come down to your face. As a kid in New Hampshire, I remember this as the season when the stone wall behind our house no longer warmed up in the sun, and we had the delicious pleasure of playing outside in the dark — before dinner.

I walked up a dirt road I had never followed, then saw a sign about a marker. I followed small white squares through the woods, startling six deer with brilliant white tails, and found a marker for the colonist who cleared a farm, built a cabin, and planted orchards. 1789. Down a hillside, a stream murmured.

The marker was placed by his descendants, in 1930, on the original site of the cabin. Father of 11 children, I stood there — me, the rain-wet trees and sodden, fallen leaves, the pale gold apples yet on the gone-wild trees — and wondered, And what of his wife?

Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled—
to cast aside the weight of facts

and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.

Mary Oliver

IMG_6762
Calais, Vermont

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.

14 comments

  1. Yes. What Nancy said. I’ll share these Mary Oliver lines with my Mom today when I visit her. She is missing the November winds and chill while building strength in the sterility of the hospital. I’ve been reading her Mary Oliver and Jane Kenyon this week.

    The mother of those 11. I want to know who she was. Indeed. I love to find markers with the names of that time: Honesty, Patience, Mercy.

  2. Love this! The omissions of history we have come to regard as truth. How many other industrious 14 year old girls that went before read history and thought much of it did not apply to them?

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