Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Joy of Driving down Long Pond Road

I was walking along Long Pond Road the other day, minding my own business, and, to my surprise, a rental car slowed to a crawl, then stopped. The driver lowered the window and leaned out. His neatly parted hair was streaked with gray. An elderly woman sat in the seat beside him, eyes closed tight, like a small child determined not to obey a parent. I could not tell whether she was his wife, or his mother. Lots of tourists get lost in Wellfleet, so I expected the man to ask directions but he didn’t.

“Can I tell you a secret?” the man asked, and a glint came into his eye.

I nodded, wondering what would follow.

“I don’t know when I have driven down such a tranquil road as this one,” he said with obvious relief at being able to share this conclusion with someone, even if that someone was a total stranger.

There was such delight in his voice, an exuberance that comes with the discovery of a new place, a place of such beauty that it knocks your socks off. Here was someone who had reached middle age without experiencing the deep peace Wellfleet inspires. He was reacting to the rolling landscape, bathed in bright sunshine, and the old Indian trail, created at a time when efficiency did not matter, now paved and called "Long Pond Road." It follows the contours of the land, putting the observer in direct touch with nature.

I simply nodded and offered a smile. I could have suggested a side trip to Dyer Pond but didn’t. His joy at driving Lond Pond Road reverberated through the silence. That was enough.