September 1.

Geese are bunching together and flying south. They’re hightailing it out of Vermont, following their instinctive, ancient pathways.

My youngest and I eat dinner on the back porch — chard and carrots dumped into noodles, stirred with spoonfuls of a chili garlic sauce. I ask about her first days as a high school junior. As I listen, our littlest cat pushes his nose against the screen. It’s growing late, and there isn’t much daylight remaining. When she leaves for a walk, I wash up our few dishes, listening to a podcast my father emailed.

How utterly complex this world is.

Afterwards, I wander out with the compost bucket and then stand in the garden. The sunflowers are crazy tall this year. Also, utterly amazing.

“The greatest sources of our suffering are the lies we tell ourselves.” 

― Bessel A. van der Kolk, The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Garden, Hardwick, Vermont

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.


  1. The sunflowers here, on the other side of the country, are also “crazy tall” this year!
    It’s quite nice to realize that connection.

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