Chance Encounter.

I pause my afternoon run when a couple waves me down in a little memorial park in Hardwick. I’m guessing they’re looking for directions, maybe a suggestion where to eat an early dinner or the road to another town. Instead, they’re curious as heck about Hardwick.

What drove the economy in the 1800s and 1900s? When was the beautiful granite town office building constructed? Do I know the population?

Weirdly, I know the answers to all these questions, and ask a few of my own. Where are they from? Where are they headed?

They’re from the northern shore of Lake Champlain — St. Albans — a town where I once bought a sizable (and expensive, oh, was it expensive) piece of maple sugaring equipment.

We stand beneath a gold-leafed maple, talking about this and that, and I share my speculations about what living in Hardwick might have been like in the early 1900s. It’s all speculation, as my daughters would readily point out.

At the end, just before we part, they ask if I know someone who lives in town. He’s a high school teacher, and I met his family over twenty years ago. In fact, I live beside his mother-in-law.

We laugh. How little separates us. Then they get in their car, and I head off on my run.

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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