Savoring Gorgeous Summer Evenings

Several years ago, my home state, Indiana, joined 47 other states and went on daylight saving time. Letters flooded our local newspaper predicting the end of the world, which didn’t come to pass but nevertheless gave the whole enterprise an edgy, if not apocalyptic, excitement. Instead, we reset our bedside clocks and gained an extra hour of sunlight, allowing more time to sit on our porches and visit with our neighbors in July and August. Now that we are well into the experiment, the letters prophesying doom have dwindled from a torrent to a trickle, written by the same people who believe the Russians are listening to us through the fillings in our teeth.

I am in favor of any manipulation of time that expands my opportunities for leisure and would take up arms against any effort to rob me of my lengthened summer evenings. Metaphorically speaking, that is, since I’m a Quaker pacifist and the only arms I have are the two I was born with.

But back to those summer evenings, which are proof God loves us and wants us to be happy. My wife and I spend ours in one of two places — in the screen house our son Spencer built us when he was 18 and wanted to prove millennials had their uses, and on our 1974 Triumph Bonne­ville motorcycle thumping through the countryside to the Dairy Bar in Lizton. The Dairy Bar and I go way back, some 50 years, when my parents would take us there to celebrate some modest achievement — a raise in pay, perhaps, or a fresh change of bedsheets — any excuse at all for Dad to yell out, “Let’s go to the Dairy Bar!”

Hursel’s pasture is still the prettiest place in Hendricks County, like something Monet would paint.

We would drive north on Road 0, past the horse-head tree at Hursel Disney’s farm. Trimmed by the electric company to avoid the power lines, the tree resembled a horse’s head. Dad would stop the car for us to marvel. “Would you look at that,” he’d say. “They couldn’t have made a more perfect horse’s head if they had tried.” This was back before cable television, and we were easily impressed.

These many years later, on a summer evening, my wife and I roll past Hursel’s farm (he’s still at it) and pause to admire his cows feeding in the grove of oak trees slanting down toward the creek. The horse-head tree is gone, but Hursel’s pasture is still the prettiest place in Hendricks County, like something Monet would paint. It would be sufficient reward for our efforts all on its own, so the ice cream is a bonus.

I order chocolate, my wife butter pecan. We sit at the picnic table behind the Dairy Bar, underneath the trees, and watch the traffic on Highway 39, which gives us an urge to travel, so we return home the long way around, through North Salem, then past Pruet’s house, the highest point in the county.

On the Fourth of July, we pull off the road beside Pruet’s; the fireworks from four towns are visible here. With daylight saving time, the sun doesn’t set until 9:18, but it takes longer for the sky to lose its glow, so we sit on the grass, impatient for the dazzled glory, and we are children again, awed by this great land.

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 July/August 2018 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.