Goodness

This morning, hearing news of the Trumps’ positive test results, I think of where I was just a few hours ago, on a hillside in Greensboro.

The Nature Conservancy owns pieces of land all around where we live, some unmarked, others with a trailhead and sign, beckoning in the curious foot traveler.

At Barr Hill yesterday, I didn’t have time to walk that short loop, but paused to admire the view, the little crickets leaping over my shoes. A couple, seeing me, put on their masks, got into their car, and drove away. So for a little while, it was just me and the postcard-stunning autumn — yellow and red mountains, the shining patch of lake, the sky.

The land was donated years ago by a local family. In Greensboro, there’s deep channels of money, its origins often hidden — “old money” — and in Greensboro, too, there’s runnels of poverty, far away from the lake’s summer wonderland, but just as real and alive.

Whatever happens with the Trumps, the virus will go on, until it’s finished, one way or another. But all through this time, these long months and what will inevitably stretch ahead, my daughters and I have gone into the wilderness around us. At the library where I work, often these days I walk along the wetlands, even just for a handful of minutes, breathing in.

Try to do some good in this life, I think. Keep land open. Write a book. Teach a kid to read. Use what’s at hand…

“If you want to live, it’s good to be friendly.” 

― Art Spiegelman, Maus

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.

8 comments

  1. Barr Hill is a beloved special place of quiet and beauty for me, too. Do you remember the sentences from Wallace Stegner’s Crossing to Safety- “I wonder if I have ever felt more alive, more competent in my mind and more at ease with myself and the world, than I feel for a few minutes on the shoulder of that known hill while I watch the sun climb powerfully and confidently and see below me the unchanged village, the lake like a pool of mercury, the varying greens of hayfields and meadows and sugarbush and black spruce woods…” I am thankful every day that I chose to come to Vermont many many years ago, and especially in these times. The woods and wilder places that still exist offer much solace, and I am grateful I am able to explore them. Your words are wise: Try to do some good in this life, I think. Keep land open. Write a book. Teach a kid to read. Use what’s at hand…Yes!! (Although I’m pretty sure I won’t be writing a book, but I hope you will be)

    1. Hi Nancy, oddly enough, that’s a book I’ve never read, although I just picked up a free copy — again. Stegner’s Big Rock Candy Mountain is one of my favorite novels. Thanks for pushing me to read this book!

      1. You’ll love it! It’s a ‘place-setting’ book, all the names are changed but will be so recognizable to you. A wonderful glimpse into life in old Greensboro.

  2. Picture perfect! I remember it well.
    Presently living with smoke over our entire village to the ocean from the fires in St.Helena and Santa Rosa. Count your blessings!

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