What I could not explain to this man was the car marked “Border Patrol” that I had spotted behind roadside shrubbery ten minutes after being stopped at customs. My three-night stay at the Benedictine monastery of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac had been my first entry into Canada in close to twenty years. I had admitted as much to the customs officer, but I wondered whether there was a pattern to how people drive in their first miles into Vermont that alerts officials to suspicious activity.
I was innocent, I was at pains to explain.
I could not help, though, looking like a man in his early sixties. I could not help driving a modest car. I could not help having barely more than a Google Maps acquaintance with the landscape around me.
And I resented that scarcely an hour after a final silent breakfast in the guesthouse dining room I was losing the mood of my days away. More precisely, I felt the ebbing of the long-familiar wonder with which I customarily greet my life and the sky over it when a retreat is over. I had wanted that time with my history of days away and weekends of recollection to last a little longer.
Sometimes rural Louisiana. Often the coastline of New England. Even once the Loire Valley.
And then the white car passed me.
In a little while the road was mine again.