For many years I worked twelve-hour shifts at a hospital in Houston. 7A-7P makes for a very long day. If I was working back-to-back shifts, I would often spend the night with my sister in Houston, repeat the twelve-hour shift the next day before heading home on 290 West to Brenham. With daylight saving time, that hour drive home went from being a burden to a pleasurable drive into a beautiful sunset painting. As I drove the colors changed as the sun sank lower and lower. It was a constantly changing panorama of different hues of yellow, shades of oranges, washes of blues and brilliant flaming reds. Those sunsets made each of those drives seem like a drive into an art gallery.
My sister has had a small home in the country for many years. I have had the pleasure of enjoying many sunsets from the porch of her farmhouse. It is peaceful sitting on that porch and listening to the sounds of the night beginning to appear as the sun falls to the horizon bathing the trees and pond in its waning light. A Great Blue Heron that lives on her pond goes to roost.
The beauty of ocean sunsets always leaves me breathless. The ocean restores my body and soul and I can actually feel this giant peacefulness settle over me while sitting on the beach watching the sunset. The brown pelicans are making their final beach patrol and I know that while I sleep the ocean waves will be busy all night long bringing new treasures to the beach.
When I moved to Austin ten years ago, it was very important for me to be near the water. Austin has many bodies of water and after much searching I found my perfect nest. Each night during the summer months, as the sun begins to set, the blazing sunsets can be spectacular. As dusk begins to settle firmly over the landscape, the bats begin leaving their daytime roost from under the Congress Street bridge heading east in their nightly scavenge for the millions of insects that make up their diet. It looks like a giant black ribbon that has been threaded across the sky. Thousands of people each year flock to the Congress Street Bridge at sunset to watch this phenomena. And it is spectacular.
Another interesting sunset “happening” that I have yet to experience occurs looking out over the ocean in La Jolla California. Each night we would watch the sun drift lower and lower to the horizon in the hopes that we would witness the “green flash”. “The green flash is viewable because refraction bends the light of the sun. The atmosphere acts as a weak prism, which separates light into various colors. When the sun’s disk is fully visible above the horizon, the different colors of light rays overlap to an extent where each individual color can’t be seen by the naked eye.” (http://www.livescience.com/26376-green-flash.html). Each trip I make to California finds me hopeful that one day, while viewing a magnificent sunset over the Pacific Ocean, I will witness the “green flash”. Someday.
And then there are the sunsets of our lives. I am certainly approaching or have already arrived at the sunset portion of my life. Looking back, I realize that there are many chapters that have led to my sunset years. Infancy, Childhood, Puberty, Young Adult, Middle Age, and Senior. There are certain tell-tell signs that let us know when we are approaching our sunset chapter. The one that jumped out at me a few years ago was when I lived on a farm. I was walking from the barn to the house and I stumbled, went down on one knee, but jumped back up very quickly. My daughter who was walking with me grabbed my arm and asked if I was OK. At that moment the thought that crossed my mind was “She thinks I am old” With that moment I realized that getting older happens so gradually that we are unaware of its creeping presence. So, your children beginning to worry about you, the over 55 discounts and advertisements that begin showing up in our mailboxes, the loss of muscle strength or body flexibility are just a few of the obvious sign posts that herald the arrival of the sunset portion of our lives.
I may be in those sunset years, but in my brain I am still existing in those chapters that traverse my twenties and thirties! So until I ride into my final sunset I plan on just enjoying every minute and living life to the fullest.
Happy bird searching!!! And sunset gathering!!!