Rain fell slowly but steadily. The two of us drove past black basalt columns on a rocky, unpaved road. The clouds hung so low that they became a fog threatening to envelop even the stark beauty of the basalt. We could see somewhat clearly for fifty yards or so on each side of the car, which made the unfamiliar terrain all the more exhilarating. Black basalt and yellow-green moss and sponged lava rock all took us by surprise, and it seemed that the fog polished their appearance, so that when we came upon each thing, it popped with the vibrancy of a different dimension.

The road went up a hill and around a jagged bluff and then straight ahead. Our tires sprayed sand and rock; a few stones clanked loudly into the underbody. We moved carefully down the road and then finally came to a place where it ended. We parked. A footpath led us through the rock and moss until we ran into a small bridge spanning an even smaller creek. The stream flowed quickly because of the rain.

My directions, given to me via text from my cousin, told us to cross the bridge and look for a natural spring roughly the size of a manhole cover. A few hundred feet more and we heard the spring gurgling and popping, pushing through the sound of rainfall. I unclipped the water bottle from my backpack, then snuck a glance Gwyn’s way. She laughed and said, “I’m not sure how big Aaron thinks manhole covers are, because this is a lot bigger than a manhole cover.”

“Maybe he had a big one in mind,” I said.

“He had a specific, giant manhole cover in mind when he told us where to find this spring?”

I smiled and then kept smiling because the spring was perfect. Naturally carbonated, it bubbled consistently while staying cold as ice. I sank my water bottle into nature’s LaCroix, took a sip, offered some to Gwyn. She shook her head no, so I drank more and refilled. The rain kept falling. The fog rolled through.

We found a thin place. A place where the eternal and the temporary meet, where things not of this world slide into this one. Not one element alone made it this way, but all of them, together: the rain, the spring, the moss, the rock, the company. Around a small bend to our left, a waterfall cut through the cliffs. The nearer we came, the louder the falls thundered. Mist sprayed into the air, mixing with the rain so that both the ground and the sky watered the earth.

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