During the cold, gray months of an Indiana winter, my mind turns to May and June and their promise of relief. We Hoosiers are fond of saying, sometimes condescendingly, that we’d never live in Florida or Arizona because we enjoy the change of seasons — the sweet corn of summer, the foliage of fall, the bright and bracing snow of winter, the shiny green of spring.
Just to be clear, I’ve never said that. If I could find someplace that was like Indiana in May and June, I’d move there in a flash. To experience Indiana in those charmed months is to discover what God had in mind at Eden’s creation, minus the naked people, we Hoosiers being suspicious of nudity and where it might lead. Which is sunburn, except in May and June, when the sun soothes rather than scorches.
The best thing about May and June is the scarcity of holidays. Memorial Day falls on the last Monday in May, which is the perfect holiday, modest responsibilities joined to a three-day weekend. There is one obligation: to pay homage to my favorite veteran, namely my father, whose resting place lies precisely 1.5 miles south of our home, on the exact same longitude as the hammock in our screenhouse. On Memorial Day, I recline in our hammock and direct my thoughts southward, silently thanking my father for not dying at war so I could be born ten years after his hitch in the Army. He served during the Korean War, but spent his two years at Fort Knox, picking up spent shells at the shooting range. His feet were flatter than a fritter, a genetic anomaly I inherited, sparing me from the rigors of battle, which was for the best, we Gulleys being lovers, not fighters.
On the subject of love, I met my wife on a gorgeous day in June of 1982 and married her on a similarly sublime June day in 1984, 39 years ago this June 2. The following day we left for Estes Park, Colorado, driving west 1,125 miles on U.S. 36, conveniently the Main Street of our Indiana home. It snowed 12 inches the first night we were in Colorado. In June, for God’s sake! Whoever heard of such a thing? We headed home two days later, missing June in Indiana something fierce. Colorado has its mountains, but Indiana has its May and June. I attribute our marital success to our June anniversary. Like many ventures, marriage is all in how you start, and any enterprise begun in June is bound to thrive.
It occurs to me, upon further reflection, that God created the world on a soft May morning. The days moved peaceably along, rolling into June, Adam and Eve ending each day on their porch swing listening to the crickets and tree frogs. Then came July, and out crawled the snake to prey on the gullible, like a carnival barker at the county fair. Their brains boiled down to nothing, Adam and Eve succumbed. It was the heat that did them in. If the snake had shown up in May or June, they’d have sent him packing. I’m a Quaker pastor, so you can trust me on this.
In May and June, we’re too busy to sin. There’s hay to cut, rake, and bale. Hay is persnickety. Leave it in the field too long and it will bleach; leave it lie too brief a time and it will gather heat and ignite. Just last June, a man in our town lost his barn to a hay fire. I drove by, saw the flames, and for a moment thought it was July.
Philip Gulley is a Quaker pastor and author of 22 books, including the Harmony and Hope series, featuring Sam Gardner.
This article is featured in the May/June 2023 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
Become a Saturday Evening Post member and enjoy unlimited access. Subscribe now