when i was a kid i lived for a while in a desert town with a wide river that ran through it. in the summer months the water level would drop and long soft hilly stretches of sand would appear in the middle of the river. but along the banks the water would still remain deep and cool, shaded in part by the thick clumps of grass and the occasional cottonwood tree. my best friend and i would ride our horses, along with my two dogs trotting close behind, down to the river to spend our long hot endless summer days. days of no school. days of abandon. days of running around and doing exactly what we wanted. we would swim the horses along the banks and then come up onto the stretches of sand, and then we would wildly race each other. there was nothing to hear in those moments except the heaving legs of our horses and their hard breathing and the urgent dull thumping of sand. our faces in their whipping manes, our eyes squinting, our small tough hands steady on the reins. and then the stretch of sand would finally run out and we would crash straight into the shallow water, still in a dead gallop, until it began to gradually get deeper and then the horses would slow down and ease themselves into the water...that cool green water that came up to our thighs, surrounding our horses so completely, and everything seemed to go soft again, only the blowing of the horses' nostrils and the panting dogs paddling behind us, and that high ballooning sun.