Petal. Stone. Blood.

Just before school starts this year, we spend a Sunday driving to the other side of Vermont, down along Lake Champlain, and crossing at the Crown Point bridge. There’s little traffic anywhere. We stop in Bristol for coffee, and then I keep driving, my friend and I in the front, our three daughters with their long legs sprawled in the back.

We’re headed to Fort Ticonderoga. Our daughters are taking an intensive history course this year, and I’m thinking the girls view the trip at first as a combination of the dusty past and an Instagram opportunity. Very quickly, we realize this is a site of stone, metal weapons, rammed earth, strategy, and bloodshed.

In the day’s sultriness, we wander behind the fort and discover the Fort’s immense gardens, now given over almost entirely to flowers. There’s few visitors and apparently no staff.

Below us, the lake lies still as a photograph, blue surrounded by the green hills. The crickets unfurl their slow late summer song. We’re in absolutely no rush at all, lingering among these flowers petals while, up on the hillside, someone bangs a constant dirge on a drum.

This ruined temple

should have its sad tale told only

by a clam digger.”

— Basho
Mount Defiance, New York

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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