Susan Gillotti
Writer's Brook, Norwich, VT

Story Info


Story & Experience

In our village there’s a path that leads to a running brook. There’s not a house in sight. I go there after a day of writing. I take off my sandals, slip my feet into the cool water, and let the day’s work settle.

Downstream, twenty yards from where I sit, are many fallen trees. They’ve accumulated over ten years as the result of ice storms. During my visits, I’ve yearned for the trees not to be there, so that I could have a fuller view of the brook.

I put out a call in 2010 to local writers I know, asking if they would help me clear the brook. Everyone wished me luck. I went to the brook on Global Exchange Day by myself, and drew a bird.

I’m not a host kind of person. This year, I’ve done what I do better: I reached out one-on-one. I told the Recreation Director about my dream for a beautiful place to sit beside the brook. I told her I thought grandparents would like to go there with their grandchildren. She suggested I call the person in town responsible for trees. I told him about my vision. He had no money. He had no workers. He had a hundred miles of roads and trees to worry about, with safety issues first. But at the end of our conversation he said, “I’ll see what I can do.” A day later, he called back and said he’d been to the brook and would bring in workers. “I like your vision,” he said.

Today I went to the brook and collected liquor bottles, paper wrappers, empty soda cans, and spent cartridges. I did very little, yet it made a difference. I’ll go back again. Eventually, the brook will become an oasis of ferns, with water singing over ancient stones.

What got me going was Radical Joy for Hard Times.

Writer's Brook, Norwich, VT

Image Credit:

  • Gillotti: Susan Gillotti


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Radical Joy Revealed is a weekly message of inspiration about finding and making beauty in wounded places.