Niles selected the long slow drive. It was not a time to be pestered by the pace and rhythm of the uneasy world around him. Slow thoughts and reflections needed attention. Small towns, winding roads through forest, and following streams and rivers have a way of purifying and washing away the anxieties of urban mayhem.
He stopped at bridge spanning a rock bottom river. He parked the car off the road, slid on his heals down the riverbank, and leaped from rock to rock until reaching the middle.
Trickling waters surged around the rocks as if busy New York pedestrians going somewhere, but ending up nowhere. The heat from the rock rose clean and fresh with the smell of pure minerals and not oily asphalt.
“I now know why there is poetry,” Niles thought. “This can’t be captured by a photo, but only expressed in emotions. If only I had the words.”
A wood pecker rapped several short bursts. “Nature’s jackhammer.”
Thoughts of the city crossed his mind. “It almost seems unreal, as if seen in a theater. I can’t bring the city with me. It will always be a part of me, but the city forms a layers around you as a protection. They must be washed away.”
Niles removed his shoes and socks. He rolled his pants up to his knees and stepped into the rushing cold water. He stood motionless until adjusting to the cold. Then he bent down and captured water in cupped hands. He splashed it in his face and doused it over his head. He returned his position on the rock and waited for his feet to dry.
“That is my cleansing,” he whispered.
When dry, shoes and socks were tugged back on and pants rolled down. He traversed the rocks back to the bank, trudged up to his car, and drove away.
“Maybe, just maybe,” Niles thought, “no matter how things turn out in Brewster Harbor, my life in the city is over. That’s what Dad ached for all his life. He’s happy now.”
“It was a good visit, maybe the best. That librarian, not his type. It has to be intellectual.”
After a night in a local motel, Niles once again made his way toward Brewster Harbor.
And suddenly appeared a two lane quarter mile steel suspension bridge connecting the mainland with Bellamy Island. On the mainland side of the bridge a sign read “Welcome to Bellamy Island.” Crossing the bridge, another sign, “Brewster Harbor 12 Miles.”