White Rags or Gulls?

Across the road, I chat with my neighbor in mid-afternoon about the general weirdness of this time.

She says it’s like the country has no president now, and in a weird way that seems true, as though in Vermont we’re in our own sovereign world, under our earnest governor and his team. Of course, we’re not, as she knows and we all know. Among the endless lessons the pandemic has taught us is how our planet is connected. The governor pleads, Stay home for the holidays. Think of not just your wants, but the needs of others around you.

Pre-holiday, we’re again waiting: what way will our collective behavior push us? Will the virus surge again, or will the bulk of us concede and stay home?

My neighbor and I linger, talking. Her little boy pretends to be his younger brother, giggling under our conversation. He shouts with happiness when I call him by his brother’s name, ecstatic that I’ve fallen for his role change.

The pandemic has opened our eyes, too, to see what was always there. The Hardwick dam recently lowered the Black River to a trickle. On Saturday afternoon, we walked through the muddy bed.

Gulls flew overhead, pure white in a November landscape of gray and black, steadily flying into the wind.

“Throughout history, women have too often been seen as subjects of art, rather than artists… As a woman painter, one needs to work out a strategy.”

— Celia Paul, Self-Portrait

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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