There was nothing more exciting than absorbing the heat of the sun for an hour or two, then swinging from a rope and plunging into the deepest, coldest lake in the country.
The lake was in perpetual shade, surrounded by rocky hills leaning inward as if in conference with one another. At lakeshore, dusk came quickly, dawn was delayed, and there was always a constant shimmer of shadow no matter what the sky said.
On that day, there were no clouds, nor any haze to dilute the moon blueness of the sky. Cicadas buzzed. The air smelled like dust.
When they came, the cicadas halted and made note, then continued their chorus.
One of them, with very long black hair and brown skin, took the rope first and jumped from the ledge and screaming, let go and seconds later splashed into the cold waters. From above you could see her teeth flashing as she grinned and shouted encouragement.
The crows heard her, and came to watch from the trees.
The catfish stopped their glide along the lake bed and came too close to the surface, where they were quarry for the osprey.
Someone in a blue swimsuit flew across from the ledge and tumbled into the water. Her cries of delighted shock echoed back to her from the dry scrub hills.
A red-tailed hawk took a hesitant vole from a weed-choked shore.
“IT’S MEEEE,” a boy shouted as he let go of the rope, and landed in the black water so close to the brown-skinned one that she lost her breath and felt water in her lungs.
In the tall grass at the water’s edge, a juvenile seagull gathered its wings around itself, wounded, hungry, and fearful.
The last one took the rope and swung out from the ledge and forgot to let go, and came near to the ledge but not near enough to let go again, then swung slowly out until the rope hung straight as a plumb bob and the last one dangled and a crow flew up and around him, scolding.
Quail chicks were herded back to the nest by the hen, missing their afternoon forage.
The last one let go and when he came up for air he was surrounded by voices, skins, hair, scales, fur, shells, feathers, leaves, shadows, squawking, silence, and hands.
They all cried in unison, “Again!”