“Soon it got dusk, a grapy dusk, a purple dusk over tangerine groves and long melon fields; the sun the color of pressed grapes, slashed with burgandy red, the fields the color of love and Spanish mysteries.”
– Jack Kerouac, On the Road
And who’s not moved by a sunset that slowly reveals its vibrant layers, ever-changing the sky as the sun sinks below the horizon? In all of my travels, one of my favourite places to watch this phenomenon is still just a short walk from my parents’ house in New York, in the humble Gratwick Park on the banks of the Niagara River.
While I was home, the low yellow light glistening through the fluttering summer leaves of the backyard trees as we were finishing dinner on the porch prompted us to head down to the river to try out my new camera.
The evening was warm which attracted irritating clouds of sandflies, those pesky creatures that cling to you as you walk, flying into open mouths, getting tangled in your hair. And while they weren’t so pleasant to encounter, the did make for an interesting effect in a photo or two.
We walked closer to the water, over the grass, through the thistles, the reeds and the milkweed pods already dried up in the hot June sun. Down a short slope and we were on the rocky shoreline, toeing cautiously at stones and boulders to make sure they would support our weight as we walked along.
Driftwood washed up from the Great Lakes, pieces that were carved by the incessant waves to resemble animal skulls, smaller pieces that looked like bones. Among these pieces, the usual rubbish that careless passersby leave behind. And a dead and mutilated bird, guts spilling out onto the rocks.
The fishy scent of the river hung in the air, the lights of Niagara Falls turned on in the distance, beyond the dropping orange ball of a sun. The reflection on the water shimmered and skipped with the waves, capturing the silhouette of passing birds and boats in its glow.
We walked down further and eventually, the whole sky turned into shades of summer fruits, the colour of peaches and melons to cherries to blueberries, the unusually shaped branches of a curly willow accentuated against the sunset.
Just as we were about to turn back and head home, we spotted a bird – a heron, perhaps? – standing still at the end of a row of rocks that stretched out toward the light – a magical sight.
Here’s to appreciating and being inspired by some of life’s little luxuries today too.
“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, The Grapes of Wrath