AS you drive above the river south of here, there's a place where the highway curves outward around a hill. In summer, the view on down to the water is almost blocked by trees, with only a glimpse of sun-sparkle or an occasional flash of white boat through the leafiness. Of course, in winter the whole scene is there for the looking. The black twisted branches of the oaks covering the downward slope lend depth and beauty, but the river sleeps under its icy blanket and the beauty is too static.
From the place where the highway curves round that hill, the best time to look is during a few weeks in early spring, before the leaves are full and after the river has wakened. Then the view is through an aura of new leaves, almost submarine in its shimmering greenness, with the river glistening far below.
And on the opposite bank (if you happen to be watching at just the right moment), there's a brief snatch of the Old World down there . . . a house of tall white narrowness with many long dark windows reaching to the water and past, seeking its own narrow striped reflection.
Its sudden verticality accents and strengthens the horizontal flow of the river. It gives the river a sort of raison d'^etre, a momentary place To Be, in the midst of quiet roads and pastel cottages. We don't go that way often, but when we do, and I get to see it (maybe only once or twice a spring), there comes a kind of fulfillment and security to the day.
Once I took the low road over on the other side of the river to try to find the tall old-world house firsthand. It turned out to be two houses, one above the other on the hill, and neither very special at all. That's how it is with most things . . . a lot depends on your vantage point.