Adequate Materials

When I was in labor with my first daughter, at some point I glanced at a clock and realized I was in trouble. That was the only rational moment I remember from that entire labor; everything else is nearly wordless in my memory.

In those final hours, in the pauses between straining to push her into this world, I imagined the peace of a summer forest, the leaves sun-dappled. She was born in wintery February, but I drew on that memory, gathering much needed strength, as I imagined digging my fingers into the black soil, fingering pebbles of quartz and shards of slate.

So, too, now, as we’re entering the dark month of December, I look at my youngest daughter — my teenager — who is learning to endure the closure of school, the upsidedownness of her world. How invaluable, suddenly, appears a game of Yahtzee, a batch of cookies, a cat before the fire, hot coffee and conversation.

It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

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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