According to the online definitions page, “Sunset or sundown is the daily disappearance of the Sun below the western half of the horizon ie. at an azimuth greater than 180 degrees as a result of Earth’s rotation. The time of sunset is defined in astronomy as the moment when the trailing edge of the Sun’s disk disappears below the horizon.” OK, fair enough, but the technical description of sunset doesn’t describe our emotional reactions to it.
Of all the displays of Solar phenomenon, sunset is the most photographed scene of the day. It is the most pondered, too, because most people sleep through sunrise and we take the rest of the Sun’s appearance largely for granted. People enjoy the rich colors of a sunset best when there are a few clouds to reflect the light. Traditionally, sunset is the most romantic time of day.
Because our lives are filled to the brim with activities or because we are engrossed in our electronic entertainments, we often deprive ourselves of sunset. This is unfortunate, because most days, sunset is the best time to slow down and reflect upon the day and our place in the world. If we are fortunate enough to have a significant other, sunset is a perfect time to be together in silence and joy. Sunset is the day’s afterglow.
“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.” –John Steinbeck
Most of us would never think of Central Nebraska as a romantic locale. Despite its primitive, flat prairie, it has just a hint of it’s glory days during the nineteenth century. There’s a certain rustic charm about the rural, western wannabe culture. Late one hot summer’s afternoon, my boyfriend and I hiked out of the little town of Broken Bow, just to be all alone, together.
Along the rugged cowpath we laughed and teased each other. Every once in awhile we’d stop, in silence, to watch a hawk glide in the distance, or listen to the whispering prairie grasses in the soft breeze. We took advantage of the stark emptiness and allowed ourselves to hold hands as we walked aimlessly down the road. The two of us concocted stories of Wild West cowboys in love with one another. Mostly, though, we didn’t need to say anything at all.
Eventually, the Western sky began to take on a pink hue. The cumulus clouds were outlined in red-orange. The breeze vanished, yet the usual July sultry stickiness was absent. The Sun’s disk, filtered through thick layers of the atmosphere, took on an orange glow. My lover climbed onto a weathered wooden gate and invited me to sit on it with him. We leaned into one another and watched the Sun sink into the horizon. All I could hear were the awakening crickets and my lover’s breath.
Several minutes later, the sky faded from pink, to orange, then to pitch black. I grabbed the flashlight from my backpack and reluctantly followed as my lover led the way back to town. A flickering thunderstorm was brewing to the southwest. We wanted to beat it home. The memory of that sunset will be with me until the day I die.
Certainly the day was very special, but it was the sunset that shines brightest in my mind. Sometimes I even dream about it.
July is Share A Sunset with your Lover Month. It doesn’t matter if you have a Hollywood setting for the sunset or just your neighborhood. This month is a reminder that sunsets are wonderful settings to share the ending of the day with the person you love. You can go over the events of the day and what you plan for tomorrow. It’s best, though, to simply hold hands in silence and take in the setting. Nothing else matters. The fleeting sunset reflects the rare richness of each moment you spend with your lover.