A Year Ago

…. A year ago, the date was looming near where I had that wretched dental procedure. On the 21st, as the oral surgeon brought a scalpel near my face, he said nicely, You might want to close your eyes for this.

This December, after weeks of virtual schooling — whatever that may be — I knock off work Friday afternoon, so the 15-year-old can drive. My oldest asked us to bring coffee. She steps out behind the doctors’ office where she works, dressed in scrubs, with a stethoscope around her neck.

Then she heads back in, jazzed for the afternoon challenge of of families and fears, from earaches to coronavirus.

In the village, my youngest parks behind the famous Stowe church, and we walk along the bike path. The path winds along the river, not at all iced over yet. We pass a few dog walkers. Behind a restaurant, the scent of dinner cooking follows us as we walk in the thin December sunlight. The savory smell reminds me of when I lived in Brattleboro, so many years ago, above a Korean restaurant.

The smell is delicious, and it follows us for a long way across a field. Stowe reminds us of those summers and falls when we sold maple syrup and ice cream at the farmers market. As we walk, my youngest tells me what she remembers of the market. These are good memories, and we share snippets of the vendors we knew in those years.

Back at the Subaru, it’s nearly four, and the sun is sinking towards the mountains’ horizon. We’ve been gone from Hardwick just a few hours and filled these hours with coffee, a scattering of snow beneath our boots, the sky overhead, the smell of dinner, and the narrow December sunlight between our words.

Carefully, she backs out of the parking space and heads for Route 100. She reminds me my brother told her to enjoy the small victories.

She pauses at the stop sign and looks at me. This is a big victory, she says.

December, 2020.

Leisure”

By William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows...

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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