June 24 – 30, 2022Vol. 24, No. 3

Best Bets For Sunsets

A summer sunset over Great Pond. Photo by Gregor Smith

by Esther J. Perne

Look west toward the end of a sunny summer’s day and the whole world might appear on fire or there might be a golden trail across a waterway leading the way to a beautiful day ahead or there might be an afterglow that goes well with a satisfying supper and an evening of campfires, starlight, moonbeams or fireworks.

Summer sunsets in Maine are legendary. Cars slow down along hilltop roads, viewers with cameras race down paths seeking clearings, swimmers pause on docks to be warmed by the last rays, boaters slow their craft and shut off motors out of deference to a display that deserves silence and children follow the illusion of the setting sun’s sinking and rising and wondering how many bounces there will be before that final disappearance behind a ridge line or building.

Like many shows of nature, there’s more to a sunset than meets the eye. The light of a sunset sneaks through cracks and knotholes, reflects off village walls, makes families at play think about supper and reminds domestic fowl that cooptime is approaching.

From where is a sunset the best?? Across water, of course. Or from a hilltop or height of land. Or perhaps where a road opens up a vista. Always through the scenic fields of a farm. And, maybe just through a window.

Best sunset viewpoints are guarded like secret fishing holes or where the fiddleheads grow or the recipe for beanhole beans never to be spoken aloud by the no-tell members of Belgrade Fire and Rescue whose awesome, annual Beanhole Bean Supper will be on Saturday, August 6 at the Belgrade Center for All Seasons.

There are some sayings about sunsets that should be taken in the same vein as a Maine weather report: good for the listening but best believed by walking out the door to experience and see what Mother Nature is really up to. Who can say “Sun red at night, sailors delight; sun red in morning, sailors take warning” when nature could prove otherwise?

A sunset from a different season: Winter on Great Pond. Photo by Gregor Smith

The praise of sunsets is not intended to diminish the pleasure of sunrises, More practical to the working or recreational day, an orientation toward sunrises makes the adage “rise and shine” much easier. Maine’s old farmhouses weren’t constructed with the kitchen the room furthest east for nothing. Imagine struggling to the darkest western corner of the house each a.m. to light a fire and put on coffee when those first great rays of the day are peeking through the eastern windows.

Rise or set, there’s an overriding truth about the sun’s circulation pattern: it’s free for the viewing and it doesn’t react to inflation (climate change maybe) and it’s not ever done. Behind every overcast situation, serious storm, wild wind and steady patter of rain lies a little bit of sun waiting to shine through with a “still here, look for me tomorrow” message.

Look west — there’ll be another sunset.

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