One of the shortcomings of my house is I can’t see the sunset.
I see the sun rise from my kitchen window, and it’s a glorious way to start the day. But the sunset? It’s blocked by too many trees and houses.
Watching the sun go down, particularly over the water, is magical. I could do it more often if I drove 10 minutes to the harbor in my coastal community. Plenty of people make the trek every day and post their stunning photos on our town’s Facebook page.
But there always seems to be conflicts: meat to defrost and marinate, dinners to be cooked, news programs to watch or cross country practices across town at the high school. The sunset always falls by the wayside.
But there’s something about a vacation and slowing down that puts things in perspective. One day every year, we take a family outing late in the day to a rocky beach in the shadow of the lighthouse in Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard.
The trip usually involves extended family: the Curmudgeon’s siblings and nieces and nephews. We haul beach chairs, coolers of beer and wine, and picnic fare along a long winding path through the grassy dunes to the beach. On our most recent visit, we were ushered by a baby skunk, who refused to leave until we started singing.
Our prospects for this year’s visit were grim. Around the time we planned to leave, it began thundering and the skies began to spit. The Curmudgeon crawled into bed and took a nap, promising to reassess in an hour.
Eventually, he and my son decided to go and take their chances. I decided to go, and soon, so did his sister and her crew. We made the 20-minute drive up the winding South Road at a surprisingly quick pace, watching for Chilmark police along the way.
The situation didn’t look promising. Huge clouds covered the sky, making the chances of a spectacular sunset bleak. And then it happened: As stories were shared over beer, wine and a few carrot sticks, the sky began to clear and the sun appeared.
As the sun began to set, it cast a golden glow over everyone, and people began to argue who was in its spotlight. I began seeing spots, fearing that looking at the glowing orb for too long might trigger an ocular migraine, a distinct possibility.
In short order, the sun looked like a giant orange ball and began its descent over the water. Photos and videos were taken, and a guest visiting from Oregon began to understand what all the fuss was about.
When in doubt, show up. You never know when the skies will clear. And once the sun is gone and the bugs come out, run for the car.