Today the temperatures were in the 90s and the humidity was high. Everyone in the household was tired and miserable and hissing at each other. Eventually, teenagers and cats flopped on the floor to nap. I got in the car and drove off by myself to find someplace cool and quiet, some place where I could write in my journal and think. I rolled down my windows to let the warm air rush into the car, the breeze making my sweaty hair feel at least a little bit cool.
The parking lot of the county park was surprisingly empty. It's a park that used to be crowded on summer days when I was a kid, but I suppose the prevalence of air conditioning keeps people indoors nowadays. The shady pine grove filled with picnic tables and grills was quiet.
When I was a kid, we used to clamber into the stream, close enough to the waterfall to get wet. Chain link fences have gone up since then, with big warnings that going off the trail means risking injury or death. I rolled my eyes at the signs and climbed over the fence. The park is by no means a wilderness area, and my footsteps on bare rock were not going to hurt anything. The deep shade of the forest felt cool and calming as I picked my way across rocks toward the sound of falling water.
The 137-foot waterfall has not changed in my lifetime. Water foams white as it rushes down over the rocks, a wonderful rolling, dancing stream, half-hidden by all the lush green foliage. Listening to the rush of water and feeling the spray on my face, I could feel my whole body relax.