Heat. Thick heat. August in the Ozarks. The air is wet wool across your chest. This is no beach sunny summer, sandcastles in foam surf collecting seashells. This is sun on boulders. Sun on green, verdant, drone of cicadas at full volume before they start to die. State park bathrooms in old pine, brown painted, lichens, ripe. It’s not the mosquitoes it’s the chiggers, gravel dust in the parking lot parching your throat.
And then a sweet plunge into river fresh water, so cold and so deep, your full height again above your head to the surface, air bubbles escaping up, a pocket of stone, pools in stone, one giant stone a hundred undulating yards long, river forced through small spaces so it goes deep, rushes.
Middle America, summer. An American Summer. No coast in sight.