It was near the end of the first semester that he discovered the Book Mill. He cannot remember what drew him there, what force motivated him to climb into his grandfather’s old Ford, the one handed down “before I am gone” so that he would have a means to get around at college. It was cold that day, a light dusting of snow on the fields north of Amherst as the road heads towards the hills rising up from the Pioneer Valley. The roads were quiet that day, the sky overcast and sullen. Flags flew limp on the their front yard poles, gardens closed for the coming winter.
There were only a couple of cars lined up in the gravel lot next to the old wooden mill. He parked alongside them, the next in a neat row. Across a wooden footbridge he pushes at the door. On the other side a room, one of many, lined with books. A place of creaking floorboards and hidden corners, of people working on laptops and sympathetic smiles, a coffee or a beer and a view down to the rapids. Until he opened that door he did not realise how much he needed this place. The college and everything he had already experienced, a few miles down the road, was already becoming bearable. Because he knew he could always drive north in his grandfather’s car to this safe harbour, on the banks of the Saw Mill river.
Books you don’t need
In a place you can’t find
But he did. He found it.
Picture: Katrin Schönig