Written by: Virginia Macali
Date: October 20, 2015
The grandfather asked his young granddaughter “Have you ever seen a sunset?” I overheard this as a family walked past me on the grey wooden deck overlooking Lake Erie. This family, along with others in the area, found a place to wait for and view the sunset over Lake Erie on a warm fall weekend.I didn’t hear the child’s response, so I didn’t know whether this was a “first” for her or not. I wondered how many sunsets I viewed from this very spot over the past fifteen years. I thought about sunsets from other places I visited over the years. The gulf coast of Florida, Lake Michigan, the Rocky Mountains, and other venues where people waited and watched, were some of my favorite viewing spots.
Pictures of sunsets taken over a lifetime grace my photo albums and shoeboxes of photos from childhood to college to career to travel to now. My cell phone holds photos of sunsets I’ve captured over the last four years. Each picture, each sunset is unique. The photos capture
color, shape, clouds. Each is a reflection of a sunset, but does not capture the impact, awe, or grandeur of experiencing it first hand.
The memory of one sunset feels more special than others. My mother and I witnessed a blazing red sunset over Lake Erie the summer a family member died. It was a shared and treasured moment. I did my best to capture it in a photograph. The photo reminds me of the moment but not its majesty.
Watching a sunset is the perfect opportunity to be mindful, curious, appreciative, and impressionable. I enjoy being present with each one as if it was the first—the shading, colors, reflections—like no other before. Why do I seem to take the time to wait for a sunset and watch it when I’m on vacation? Why don’t I pause more often to see the sun slip beneath the trees and houses outside my back door?
These musings give me pause. Will the round red sun ball meet the silvery water and disappear or will it melt into the gray white layer of clouds hovering above the water in an anticlimactic moment? Will the afterglow illuminate they sky as the day turns to night? Will I see the green flash as the sun slips below the horizon? Will joy or sadness arise in me?
Writer Jo Walton invites me to step into this opportunity in her quote: “There’s a sunrise and a sunset every single day, and they’re absolutely free. Don’t miss so many of them.”