As a child, I was quite isolated and it was up to me and my vivid imaginations to occupy the day. I was easily amused. I would pick out rocks in the gravel driveway and I would admire the colors embedded deep within them. I especially loved quartz…it is such a mystery to me.
Then there was the huge black ant colony that inhabited the heart of the big sycamore tree. It was located in the center of the grassy part of the circular drive. So, when I tired of the rocks, I just moved a few feet to play with the ants.
These black creatures were carpenter ants and I learned that they devoured wood like termites. I didn’t care. I found it amusing to try and stop their mindless march towards their home. I would disrupt their long caravans and I devised all manner of obstacles attempting to thwart their efforts to bring food back to the tress. In the end, it was I who was defeated. Their determination to overcome prevailed. No matter the size or complications of my contrivances, they would go to any lengths to get through my challenges. In the end, they won and I lost on a daily basis. They helped wile away the empty hours of a typical country day for a very lonely child.
The indoor past time was coloring. I was fascinated by color. I wanted every color that Crayola ever developed. Coloring and drawing pictures kept me occupied and I wanted so much to be an artist. Alas, I have no talent, so I admire. I love color and anything that displays its beauty. Flowers, sunsets, paintings, all were tangible representations for color to me…and in the midst of this, my dream was to capture the colors, not in a rainbow, but in the sunsets.
I can’t remember when I discovered the intrigue of sunset. But, I am sure that it was the burst of colors that originally mystified me. I think that it was the subtle changes of hue as the sun sank farther below the horizon.. All of those iridescence on the clouds reflected and emanated from the last rays were pure eye candy for me. No matter how I tried, I could never find the right shade of the right hue that captured the corals, muted purples and the pinks!…The varied shades of pinks, like cotton candy, were too difficult to match in the 64 quantity box of Crayolas.
My childhood home faced westward. Daily, I was treated to the day’s grand finale. It seemed that sunsets were just an extended part of me and I don’t understand how I lost touch with them in my adult years, but I did.
As adulthood traveled at the speed of light, I failed to stop and inhale the sunsets. It wasn’t until I tasted the bitterness of divorce that I recalled the wonderful evening light-shows. I needed to stop and watch the sunsets again. Pain and loss propelled me into the evening display for consolation and I couldn’t say, “No”. My memory highlights three sunsets in particular.
During and after my divorce, I chose to do a lot of business travel. The changing of scenery seemed to help me muddle through those dark and unforgiving days. It was on one of those westward flights that I noticed, as I was flying close to evening, it seemed the plane was chasing the sunset. If we could just fly faster, we could cause the sunset to stand still, maybe never end. I would look out of the airplane’s window and marvel at the moment by moment subtle color changes .
It was on business travel to St Louis, MO. that I decided that I wanted to view a sunset from the Arch. My hotel was a few blocks away and one late afternoon, I cancelled my dinner plans and walked to the Arch.
I thought how this Arch represented new life for all those who passed through St Louis. The brave and ambitious ancestry ventured and wagered on a new start in the unknown. I needed to connect to that kind of spirit. Divorce calls on you to let the past go and only look forward. I, too, needed to be brave and ambitious and venture forth in a new life…
When I got to the Arch, I stopped in mid step when I saw just how small the cubicle was in which you road to the top. I have slight claustrophobia and I am taller than average so the idea of folding myself into that tiny space was about to cause me to turn on my heels and go back to find my friends in the hotel.
Then I stopped again, in mid step, and I turned back towards the Arch. I didn’t know the future and this may be my one and only chance to see a sunset from the magnificent wonder. Should anyone around me have the misfortune of reading thoughts, they would have thought that I lost my mind with all the self dialog transpiring within my head.
I decided I could do this. I just had to stop hyperventilating long enough to enfold myself and sit on this chair like contraption. This wasn’t going to be so bad….
It wasn’t so bad until somehow, I overlooked the architecture of the Arch. I had failed to notice how narrow it became as it got closer to the top. As the space in the cubicle also became even more cramped, my breathing became more shallow…I needed to get to the top and back on the ground quickly.
Just as I was about to pass out from lack of oxygen, the sunset came into view through that tiny window. In the next instant, I forgot about breathing because the sunset was breathtaking. I didn’t have words to discribe this beauty. It seemed to last forever. I thought for a moment that time had stood still. It definitely was worth hyperventilating for…
The next sunset that stands out in my mind is one at Marco Island, FL. My Association held its Annual Meeting on this marvelous island or in Scotsdale AZ….I attended most years. It was held in the middle of February and it was wonderful to leave the cold and bitter days behind. In February, this trip was paradise.
I loved the beach side hotel with its balconies and colorful sails of the sailboats that were pulled onto the white beaches. I loved the sound of the waves on the shore. I was surrounded by everything my weary soul needed. On this particular trip, I arrived a day before all of the meetings. After the flight. it was an hour’s drive to the island. Even though I like to drive, this was tiring for me, so I always came the day before to set back and relax.
As the valet parked the rental, I entered into the lobby. I stepped through the doors into a welcoming space, and immediately, I was bathed in the light of a majectic sunset. As I looked up, it seemed that the windows became a frame for one of the most glorious settings of sun…
I hurriedly checked in and had my bags taken to the room. I sat down in one of those overstuffed chairs that faced the windows and watched the sun set into a deep blue sea. The music was wafting through the lobby and I was oblivious to everyone and everything around me. I was mesmerized by this huge orange ball before me. I felt as if I had stepped into this wonderful picture that was hanging on the wall.
It was a year after the divorce and I was in the healing process. I had adjusted to being alone and I was becoming more confident that I would be alright. This scene from a movie had enveloped me and I basked in the last rays of the day…I was convinced, I would not only survive, I would live and enjoy my life.
My most favorite sunset isn’t a particular one. It is a composite of all of the sunsets that I ever dreamed and of those that I have experienced with my husband. The setting is one in which my husband and I are newly married. Life is good. I am in love and content for the first time in my entire adult life…
I come home from the office in the afternoon, change my clothes so we can take a ride on the motorcycle. (It doesn’t take long for me to go from business woman to biker broad). When my husband walks through the door, I meet him dressed in my leather jacket and chaps. I tell him that I need a ride. I never need to beg him to fire up the Harley….. In an amazingly short amount of time, we are in the wind. There is nothing that compares to a ride on the back of “Black Betty”.
As she rumbles to a start, my husband asks me if I want to learn how to ride and each time, I say, “No”. Finally, he asks me why and I tell him that, in my “queen” seat, I have the best of all possible worlds. I can leave the cares of the traffic and road to his capable hands.
As the lines on the road quickly whisk by, I can lean back and feel the wind in my hair, listen to the throaty bass tones of the exhaust and surrender myself to all that surrounds us in the relm of atmosphere. For me, riding on “Betty” is next to personal flight. I am free to escape to “La La Land”. Free to leave the cobwebs that the day collects behind me….those worries and cares are lost, gone, blown away by the wind.
As we leave the house, he asks me where I want to go. As usual, I say, ” Just put it in the wind and head west…” For the next few hours of the day, we are free to let the road take us where it will. It is in the direction of comfort, contentment and peace of mind.
As we head west, he finds a gravel road that leads to the top of one of the hills in the National Forest. Usually, he finds a vista that faces west. When he finds the perfect spot, he decides that this will be the place to say, “Good bye to the day”. As we set on the provided bench, he holds my hand. We talk softly as we anticipate the approaching moment of magic.
Here, we speak of our future, our dreams and recount our great fortune of finding the love that we thought once was lost to us. In the softening rays of light, he kisses me and we no longer need to speak. We set quietly accepting our moment in the sun. This is my most favorite scene of setting sun…the one sunset that I wish to capture, to hold and to hope that time will hold still. Just one more ride, one more sunset, one more dream….
Reflecting back over time, it would seem that, for me, life is an array of sunsets; always an ending and a beginning. I dreamed that he and I had more sunsets to watch as we sat in the final rays of our days.
But, I know that his final sunset is approaching. And when that ending of days comes, I will set, hold his hand, kiss his lips and tell him how much I enjoyed each moment, each sunset that we shared. I will watch his final sunset and be in awe of its beauty…because
It is what I do…I relish sunsets….