"Boys," Mat says, "It was a hot day. There wasn't a breeze anywhere in that bottom that would have moved a cobweb. It was punishing." He is telling Elton and Andy.
It was a long time ago. Mat was only a boy yet, though he was nearly grown. His Uncle Jack hired him to help chop out a field of tall corn in a creek bottom. It was hot and still, and the heat stood close around them as they worked. They felt they needed to tiptoe to get enough air.
Mat thought he could not stand it any longer, and then he stood it a little longer, and they reached the end of the row.
"Let's go sink ourselves in the creek," Jack said.
They did. They hung their sweated clothes on the willows in the sun to dry, and sank themselves in the cool stream up to their noses. It was a good hole, deep and shady, with the sound of the riffles above and below, and a kingfisher flying in and seeing them and flying away. All the afternoon when they got too hot, they went there.
"Well sir," Mat says, "it made that hard day good. I thought of all the times I'd worked in that field, hurrying to get through, to get to a better place, and it had been there all the time. I can't say I've always lived by what I learned that day -- I wish I had -- but I've never forgot."
"What?" Andy says.
"That it was there all the time."
"Redemption, " Mat says, and laughs. "A little flowing stream."
-Wendell Berry, from Remembering