Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

Columns

August 15, 2013

Under tall Virginia trees

After years of sunlight streaming into the house, we now live in Virginia, where the trees grow taller, in part to keep houses cool in the sweltering heat. Little did we expect to miss the light so much.

Now, by five o’clock, it feels as though the day has come to an end. The neighborhood has already grown dark. We have had the experience of driving to the store at seven or eight and remarked that the sun is still up over there. Who knew?

Back in Indiana, the sun lifted our spirits during the day. We could see the weather coming, especially the turbulence, but more importantly we could watch sunsets. For the best of these, we might pop up and go outside for a several minutes just to glory in the colors. I would turn to my wife and in a hollow gesture say, “I give this to you, my sweet.”

In summer, as the evening lingered late, I could step out the back door and revel in extended day, sometimes lapsing into silent gratitude. Most of us remember going back outdoors after dinner for a couple of extra hours to play “spud” or catch lightning bugs. My family knows that once the sunlight struck the northern face of the house, I would cheer up, because it meant summer break.

Though my ancestors dwelt in the Black Forest hunting deer, I find myself mildly depressed in the prolonged shadows. Our house here has air conditioning, so I don’t need all the shade. Not to mention that in hurricanes, trees fall readily. Who needs that?

So out in my studio, facing the woods in back, I find myself stopping to catch the sunlight that penetrates the foliage. I look for excuses to leave the house, maybe drive to the river’s edge, just so I can catch the end of the day and maybe discover that, hey, look at that sunset!

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