Sunset, Skunk, State Police

Before I leave work yesterday afternoon, I stack piles of papers labeled with stickies in my scrawled handwriting — a roadmap for myself for the next day’s work.

Outside, the sunset is crazy beautiful.

I drive home, listening to VPR. The governor has sent the state police to lodging establishments, in an attempt to crack down on quarantine requirements. My brother, in New Hampshire, appears to be sealed off from us, in a sea of Covid.

At home, my 15-year-old dreads the thought of another lock-down, like last spring. But it’s not April 2020 in Hardwick, Vermont. In November, unlike in April, Covid is among us, in the schools, among people we know.

In the evening, my friend and I walk around town in the dark. The long bar in Positive Pie is empty, save for the barkeep at the far end, his head bent over his phone. At the high school, we walk down a wooden flight of stairs to the soccer field that a group of volunteers recently built. In the field’s center, we gaze up at all those stars, the Milky Way arched over the firmament.

Back at my house, we stand in the driveway, talking, talking, in the unusually warm November evening. A skunk ambles around the neighbors’ house — a normality I can embrace — although, after a few moments, I back up and head into my house for the night, where my daughters are planning to make tiramisu for Thanksgiving.

I wish I could invite all of you…..

“When I face the desolate impossibility of writing five hundred pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all I can permit myself to contemplate.” 


― John Steinbeck

Photo by Gabriela

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.

11 comments

      1. Definitely. Thanksgiving for us is going to be my husband and myself with children and grandchildren on Zoom. We’re trying to figure out a reasonable way to all isolate in December so we can be together. Daughter and family are upstate Vermont, son and family are in New Hampshire so when those grandkids come by right now, it’s with masks.

  1. Was it Steinbeck (or mere writing legend) who started writing by sitting at his desk with 25 immaculately sharpened pencils…and then kept writing until all the pencil points were a nub and he then-and only then-called it a day? Beautiful sunset. GT

    1. That might be Steinbeck. He was certainly a prolific writer. Late fall sunsets and twilight are the compensation for days in New England that are getting progressively shorter and shorter and shorter.

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