Old Photos

The couple who last owned our home mail us old photos. When they bought the house, the 100-year-old dwelling was in ragged shape. My daughters and I spend some time looking at how the house has changed, and how it hasn’t.

I bought the house in good shape, and now we’re wearing into it, scraping and chipping at its shininess with our use. In the spring, we’ll open all the windows and polish our house again. In the summer, I’ll paint, as paint perpetually falls off in New England.

Once, I had thought to sell and move when my youngest graduated from high school. Now, like everything else in our collective lives, the future is uncertain. Shelter in place — a phrase I once believed would never apply to our Vermont life — directs the shape of our lives.

In the afternoon, I ski through the woods on the nearby trails. Just as I click on my bindings, I remember last night’s dream of a snowy owl… and then I wonder, truth or reality? I stand there alone, in the cold and under the overcast sky, wondering. For just a moment, I’m not sure. Maybe I really did see that elusive owl. Then I push off into the woods, silent but for the sound of skis over snow.

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.

6 comments

  1. They say they sell your house to someone like who you were when you moved in. My house in Portland was like that, so was my Grandparents house too.

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