The cold water beaded up and rolled down the sides of the shiny irrigation pipe making it difficult, but fun, for my brother and I to walk on. On one side, the dirt had been heated by the summer sun until it was an unbearable temperature--even for feet toughened by weeks of running on gravel roads--and all kinds of stickers grew where the dripping water refreshed them--where no herbicides reached them.
Some were vines that grew in snake-like fashion along the ground with thick barbs. Some grew hidden in a clump of green with thin, tiny needles. Then there were the cockle burrs that had no intention of hiding. They boldly grew on bushy plants with large, prickly balls that grabbed pants and shoestrings.
The water that gushed out of the pipe on the cornfield side quickly created gloppy mud--mud to wiggle our toes in, mud to sink into up to our ankles--but mud that was being chilled by water pumped from deep within the earth. It sent shivers up our legs and sent us scrambling over the pipe to brave the stickers for a bit of warmth before climbing back on, our muddy prints telling the tale of our adventures.
The corn leaves swayed, giving its wave offering to the clouds, wafting its green aroma on the wind. Wild flowers, too, released their sweet scent to the breeze, and nearby, the earthy smell of cattle.
On some days, the nearby grove of trees would be black with birds that all took off at once with a flutter of wings, or a cow could be heard bellowing for her calf as we made our way along the cold, slippery pipe.
We picked the pinkish purple flowers that shared the moist soil with the stickers. The bouquet wilted in our sweaty hands as we neared the well, the noise of which was deafening. I could feel the low pump, pump, pump sound in my chest until I felt like it was my heart beating. At the same time, my ribs felt as if they were closing in--collapsing.
I always felt like running to escape this assault on my chest, but the cool, sparkling water called to my dry throat. To get a drink I had to get right next to the well. I took the metal tumbler from off the faucet where it rested upside down, and with a twist of the handle, released the water with a rush that sent the icy spray splashing up my sun-warmed arms. Ignoring the heat of the engine and the beating in my chest, I poured the frigid water down my throat. My insides felt instantly frosted from my lips to my stomach.
The dust on my feet didn't feel quite so hot.