Another Sunset

Jul 10, 2023 | Uncategorized, Welcome Column

My latest sun is sinking fast. My race is nearly run
My strongest trials now are past My triumph hath begunI

I wish I had brought a paint brush and knew how to use it. Sitting here watching this sunset in the mountains of Nevada, that’s the idea I get. I wish I had a paintbrush and knew how to use it. I’m watching a sunset and it’s only six thirty on a mid-summer’s eve. But the effect of pure dry desert light has washed the contours of the shapely forms into dark relief. On my drive here today I noticed many dust storms and the winds came from the north fiercely. I was annoyed by the winds mostly today but to see the pastel effect on the mountains now gives me an appreciation of the beauty of life and of the dust which we all turn to.

The mountains to my right have changed dramatically in the last few minutes. Before they were checkerboards of sharply defined contoured borders of light and darkness. Now they have spots of green color dappled into the purple mountains. I’d try to take a photograph but, shooting directly into the light of the sun, I know the photo would have no chance of coming out like I see it. Better to just sit and enjoy the ephemeral lighting.

My thoughts go to the song. I realize that my own sun is sinking and I don’t know how fast it is sinking.

I walk to my car. My shadow is getting much longer in part because I am walking uphill. I don’t really want this beautiful sunset to end but I know it must.

7:37 PM: the first blast of a four level cloud-induced sunburst. The central mountains are bathed in a sublime lighting. The shifting patterns against the barren desert mountains almost make it look like glaciers are moving slowly through them.

First sunset: The stratus clouds above the horizon against the sun have formed a tier of four separate cloud layers. This sunset will be multiple sunsets in a way. But now the cloud tier has been reduced to two as the sun passes behind the top cloud. I see yellow, pink, blue, red, white, brown and green colors as I gaze into the mix. If I look away briefly I am blessed by the changes and how they enrich my senses. I can’t write an adequate description of this magical scene because it changes so quickly and my pen strokes become obsolete once they are put onto paper.

I stand in awe of the afterglow. The cloud bank obscured the sun as it passed beneath the mountains but the sunset was undiminished. I have seen sunsets in the past where the sun seemed to extinguish into the sea or land but they are not necessarily better. I once felt a cold shiver just after the sun set directly into the Pacific at Patrick’s Point near Crescent City for example.

The wind is still. Occasionally four wheelers speed by my campsite kicking up dust. I don’t mind. It just adds to the glow against hard shadows of desert light.

I have a thing for sunsets. I like to experience them as a special part of the day. People in Key West Florida honor that special glow on the horizon every day that the weather allows. I can recall many memorable sunsets in my life: that rare clear sky sunset over the cliffs at Patrick’s Point in California when the air sent a cool chill up the spine as the sun extinguished itself into the Pacific. Another special sunset overlooking the Stromboli volcano in Italy. Grandview Point in Canyonlands National Park in Utah.

A good sunset can take hours. Special moments need to be savored. Special moments need to be savored because life itself is really just a prolonged sunset. Nature makes it beautiful but maybe we can make it even more so.

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