The sunset silenced my visiting big-city friends, who stepped away from the on-farm wedding reception, seemingly drawn in a trance. We country folk remained seated and exchanged glances of puzzlement.
The city friends stood like silhouettes against the setting sun. They broke the stillness only to extend their arms and take a few snaps with their digital cameras. They stared until the last drop of sun disappeared, then turned away, prepared to party until the starry sky marveled them.
I witnessed the same behavior from visiting Chicago-area friends on three different occasions, so I asked why they looked at the rural sunset as though it were Niagara Falls. The answer: Out here, the sun touches the earth. No masses of buildings, houses or other man-made structures block the view. The sun sets clean and crisp on an open horizon with a vibrant color palette and accompanying cloud formations – unlike any city sunset.
Wow, I should be silenced nightly.
We country folk can see the sun set every cloudless evening. I thought anyone with a window experienced the same unless they watched the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean. So, I gave the setting sun more thought. I determined that I always have appreciated the sunset subconsciously. I rarely stare at the sun’s departure, but I love to be near family in the two hours leading to the grand moment. The sun’s warm glow beautifies the fresh-cut lawn, waving corn tassels and grazing cattle. Everything seems picturesque, similar to how my makeup looks in a low-lit restaurant.
As important, the setting sun signifies the time to unwind and welcome the cooling summer air with a glass of iced tea on the front porch. The kids blow bubbles. The dog chases them. My husband and I sip tea and ask them to hold the bubble bottle upright. Without the glowing sunset, we sit indoors.
Even there, I have reminders of the sunset’s majestic qualities. In fact, my choices in framed, wall-mounted portraits signify that the rural Illinois sunset ranks with my kids and wedding day.
The photo in the upstairs hall silhouettes corn tassels and the front porch pillars against a swirl of reddish-orange sky that resembles the color of fire. My brother-in-law snapped the sunset photo one summer during his visit from England. The picture remains among his favorites even after all the foreign countries and American venues that he has photographed.