I have an ongoing obsession with the nightly sunset. I track the exact time the sun will set. I scan the sky during the afternoon for promising clouds which can enhance the beauty. I ponder my schedule.
Lately, I’ve been out of sync. I will be driving one kid or another to this location or that and as I drive, I look west and see the colorful skies, the amazing clouds and I know that I am missing out. When I’m dead, my kids will probably remember me most by my bitter complaints that “I’m missing the sunset!”
My husband tells me that it’s okay because the sun will set again tomorrow, that there will be plenty of glorious sunsets throughout my life, but I’m not comforted by those platitudes. I know that each sunset is a once-in-a-lifetime event and to miss even one feels like a sharp stick to the heart.
I blame this fairly new weird obsession on several factors.
1) I grew up in Washington state where the skies are cloudy most of the time. In fact, I just looked it up and 62% of the time, the skies have “heavy cloud” cover. That’s 226 days of the year.
2) Now I live in San Diego County where we have an average of 266 sunny days a year.
3) My kids are old enough to be left home alone.
4) I live fifteen minutes from the beach.
Add these factors together and I am making up for lost time. Think of how many sunsets I never saw in Seattle because it was raining or cloudy. Think of how many rare sunsets I never saw because I was busy taking care of small children, stuck at home (and I mean “stuck at home” in the nicest possible way, of course).
And I live (sort of) close to the beach, where sunsets are just better. Am I right? I’d also like to see the sun set behind a mountain range (as I did while growing up in the Pacific Northwest), but right now, I live by the ocean.
This week I’ve missed some amazing sunsets. Twice, I’ve managed to squeeze in a quick trip to the beach, only to have the sunset be a dud (caused by a ridge of low clouds on the horizon). It’s maddening, really.
Tonight, I dropped off a son at work (at 5 PM) and then drove across town to pick up a lamp I was buying from someone on a Facebook garage sale group. As I was driving, I noticed some puffy clouds hanging in the sky and thought maybe I could detour on the way home.
I barely had time, but I drove as quickly as I could to the nearest beach access. I parked and hurried over the sand, only to see a ridge of low clouds blocking the sun. Plus, it was only about two minutes before the actual sunset. The rest of the sky was mostly clear, so that meant the sun slid past the horizon and the sky faded and that was it.
A dud. However, the tide was out and as I reached the glossy sand I found an intact sand dollar. I picked it up and brought it home. It felt like a sandy promise in my hand.
I took the photo above as I left the beach.
I can only hope that my schedule, the skies, the tides and the clouds converge into perfection and I get to photograph some beautiful sunsets again soon.