Footloose.

Nearing August, our Vermont summer is now tinged with strands of colder weather, the maples already beginning to redden in random patches. The sugar maple in Hardwick’s memorial park always tends to turn first.

The mornings are darker, too.

I knock into a friend in a parking lot who’s just returned from a drive out West. He relays that the interstates were filled with people traveling. Motel rooms were hard to come by. Strangers were unhelpful. Even the fish in the Rocky Mountain rivers where he had gone to fly fish weren’t biting he says mournfully. ‘I’m back to stay.’

In the dark mornings, before the sun rises, blood-red through smoke from distant wildfires, I read Sebastian Junger’s Freedom that I began reading in Burlington last weekend, while I waited for my daughters. I sat in the sunlight, remembering when I bought a William Vollman novel two decades ago, and read it in a tiny Toyota we had been given, while nursing my newborn.

At the heart of most stable governments is a willingness to share power with people you disagree with — and maybe even hate…. Values like fairness and human dignity [are] going to determine at least some of the rules of the game.”

— Sebastian Junger

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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