Mr Harrold came out of the cafe to find it’d stopped snowing. The sky was clearing behind the hills on the other side of the river. He stopped beside the car for a minute and stretched, holding the car door open while he drew a big mouthful of cold air. He’d swear he could almost taste this air. He eased in behind the steering wheel and got back on the highway. It was only an hour’s drive to the lodge. He could get in a couple of hours of fishing this afternoon. Then there was tomorrow. All day tomorrow.
At Parke Junction he took the bridge over the river and turned off on to the road that would take him to the lodge. Pine trees whose branches were heavy with snow stood on either side of the road. Clouds mantled the white hills so that it was hard to tell where the hills ended and the sky began. It reminded him of those Chinese landscapes they’d looked at that time in the museum in Portland. He liked them. He’d said as much to Frances, but she didn’t say anything back. She’d spent a few minutes with him in that wing of the gallery and then moved on to the next exhibit.
It was going on noon when he reached the lodge. He saw the cabins up on the hill and then, as the road straightened out, the lodge itself. He slowed, bumped off the road on to the dirty, sand-covered parking lot, and stopped the car close up to the front door. He rolled down the window and rested for a minute, working his shoulders back and forth into the seat. He closed and then opened his eyes. A flickering neon sign said Castlerock and below that, on a neat, hand-painted sign, deluxe cabins – office. The last time he’d been here – Frances had been with him that time – they’d stayed for four days, and he’d landed five nice fish down river. That had been three years ago. They used to come here often, two or three times a year. He opened the door and got out of the car slowly, feeling the stiffness in his back and neck. He walked heavily across the frozen snow and stuck his hands in his coat pockets as he started up the planked steps. At the top he scraped the snow and grit off his shoes and nodded to a young couple coming out. He noticed the way the man held the woman’s arm as they went down the steps.