It is 93 degrees. It should not be 93 degrees. It should be 73 degrees, but no one commands Mother Nature, and it's been over 90 degrees for the past few days. The house is hot, the gingerbread boys are hot, you are hot, and the freezer full of Klondike bars is depleted.
After chores, the Gingerbread Man packs up watermelon, chips, apples, water, towels, and buckets, and the four of you walk to the river.
The trail through the trees is cool and green, and already, you feel the heat of the day abating. You come to the clearing and pass by the pond, inhabited by turtles and frogs and cattails, the place you go ice-skating in winter when it freezes over. Right now it's murky brown; it's hard to believe it's the same place of white winter magic. The heat oppresses you, and you hurry back into the trees.
You cross over the stream on the wide trunk of a fallen tree, foot after foot just like when you were young and pretended the street curb was a balance beam. You keep going, following the gingerbread boys to your special place, the place the Gingerbread Man discovered shortly after you moved here.
It is an inlet with a small, sandy island guarded by the ruins of an old stone mill. The river runs quickly here, the spring current so strong that the Gingerbread Man has trouble keeping his balance. But here in the small inlet, the river is shallow and rocky, and the water runs cool and soft over your feet.
You walk out into the stony river bed, letting the water cool you. Starlings dart overhead, a dragonfly zooms by, and you remember a visit a few years ago when you watched fish leaping in the water. It seemed as if they leapt for joy. There were no fish leaping today, but the peace of the water washes over you, and you watch it roll over stones in the middle of the river, continuously moving, washing away your worries and fears and frustrations of the past week, washing away the heat.
The oldest gingerbread boy grabs a bucket and fills it with water while your back is turned.
"Look!" he says, "A crayfish!"
You turn to look, and he dumps the cold water all over you.
The cold water shocks you, and you shriek, laughing. The water is delightful. The river is just what you needed.
It always is.