October 4, 2011

The Value of a Lazy Sunday Afternoon

This is my "The Raven Lunatic" column, currently running in eight Indiana newspapers.

The Value of the Lazy Sunday Afternoon

My paternal grandmother felt that Sundays were for several specific activities, church, family dinner, and “resting”.

Church was not a question. You were going—no ifs, ands, or buts about it. As an adult, when I visit my parents in West Lafayette, we go to the 8 a.m. service (7 a.m. Evansville time.) No, ifs, ands, or buts.  And yes, I will make a “joyful noise” whether I like it or not!  To quote my brother, “I can sleep when I’m dead.”

When I was a child many Indiana towns—including my hometown of South Whitley—had “blue laws” that prohibited certain businesses from Sunday commerce.  Nor did schools or sports leagues schedule Sunday activities. Except for the occasional piano recital or Scout ceremony, Sunday was as my grandmother decreed.

There were few if any convenience stores in the area.  I’m not sure that term was even coined yet; gas stations sold gas and oil and windshield wipers.  If you needed to fill your car with gasoline, you did it on Saturday.

A few restaurants were open to accommodate the Sunday trade, but certainly no drug or grocery or hardware store. Banks were open 9 to 3, except on Fridays when they stayed open until six p.m. The flowers for our wedding twenty-seven years ago had to be delivered before noon on Saturday for the 4:30 p.m. wedding.  The florist closed at noon.

There was a K-Mart thirty miles away, but it was Sunday – for heaven’s sake – and my family did not shop on Sundays.

After church and a fried chicken dinner at Kenny’s Drive In or Mullendore’s Broasted Chicken, our family watched sports on television or visited people. 

My grandmother and my mother particularly enjoyed doing this, leaving the men at home and taking me along. Sometimes we just got in the car to see where we wound up, in the homes of other people who were also not shopping on Sunday. 

My grandparents and I were “joyriding” one Sunday afternoon, when my grandfather decided to follow some smoke to see if there was a fire.  My grandmother nagged him to continue east down Washington Center Road farther and farther away from their home.  Soon, we were in Allen County and still no fire, just more white smoke from a distant point, that didn’t seem to be getting any closer.  Almost to Fort Wayne, we finally sniffed out the source of smoke; a farmer was burning tires in an old barrel.

If there were no football games to watch, no baseball to listen to on the radio, no church afternoon activities, no fires to chase, no neighbors to visit, then we would sit on the porch.  Just sit. 

When was the last time you just sat on your porch or deck and did nothing? 

With the nicer weather, I sit on my deck for at least ten or twenty minutes a day (yes, the Wi-Fi does work out there) but it is better when I just ponder the Wild Kingdom in the yard.  Today Mr. Ground Hog stuck his ugly stubby nose out from under the yard barn, and I gave him a sly grin back (a knowing grin that says, “I know where the trap is, mister, and I know how to bait it.”) 

A group of frisky squirrels played around the bird bath, still overflowing with this weekend’s rain water.  If I wait long enough in the evening, a doe or two will cross the street behind my house to walk down to the neighboring lake for a drink.

My grandmother knew something important; she understood the value of resting.  In a world full of constant stimulation, mind-numbing problems, and the threat of terrorism, a good rest on Sunday isn’t a bad use of time. 

© by author 2011.