BOSTON — It was a golden August day in New Hampshire. The kind of day that warms the soul in midwinter, as memory recalls the blue of the sky, the green of the trees, and the sunshine pouring down on the earth.
Driving along a dusty rural road on my route home, I saw an unusual sight. Four Japanese men appeared to be hitchhiking! However, they didn't have it quite right. Instead of holding out their thumbs, there were raising their arms and hailing the few passing vehicles as if they were trying to hail a cab in New York.
These four explorers must be visitors taking a break from an annual international conference held at the nearby college, I thought. They all were wearing white name badges attached to their shirts. My heart went out to them. They looked like boys who had escaped from school for a day but didn't know where to go beyond the bounds of the campus.
They looked very happy and relieved when I pulled up beside them and they all piled into my little station wagon. We all grinned at each other and said, "Hello."
"Where do you want to go?" I asked.
"Lake," they responded.
"Do you want to swim or boat?"
"Boat!" was the unanimous choice.
Happily, I was heading toward the lake where the movie "On Golden Pond" was filmed in the 1980s. It's a large, beautiful, pristine lake dotted with islands and surrounded by tree-covered hills. The best place to be boating on this perfect summer day. I looked at my watch. We had about 10 minutes to get them on the last "Golden Pond" boat tour of the day. Would there be four seats left? This was their final day in New Hampshire; tomorrow they were headed home to Japan.
Yes! We were on time and, yes, there were four seats left!
Not wanting them to be stranded in a strange town when the boat returned, I promised to take them back to the college. Two hours later, I watched the boat approaching the dock and could see my four contented sailors smiling and waving at me. When they disembarked, they wanted to take pictures of all of us together, and we exchanged addresses. They told me to call them if I ever visited Japan. I drove them back to the college, and they said effusive thank yous and waved goodbye as I drove off.
Four months went by, and the golden summer turned to a snowy white December. An envelope appeared in my mailbox.
Inside was a lovely Christmas card of a snowy Japanese winter scene. It looked very much like the scene outside my window in New Hampshire. There was only a signature beneath the printed greeting. But that was all there needed to be.
I knew what the sender was saying. "Thank you for that golden August day, the blue sky, the green trees, the sunshine pouring down on the earth, the type of day that warms the soul in midwinter."
(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society