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What Mesmerized us about Acadia’s Sunset

All right, I’ve been asking a ton of questions lately. To be fair: it’s been four straight days of rain in Shenandoah National Park. Enough to dampen even the strongest rain-lovers’ resolve when camping is involved, and certainly enough to put anyone in a philosophical mood. Fall is here, and our ocean-kissed memories of Acadia NP seem far even though it’s only been two weeks.

One of the many journaling moments, kneeling here at the edge of habitat in a fleece and running shoes.
One of the many journaling moments, kneeling here at the edge of habitat in a fleece and running shoes.

The memory of one particular late summer evening jumps to life as I flipped through my journal. So while listening to City of the Sun  a band discovered randomly in NYC – here’s a question I hope you’ll answer:

What mesmerizes us about sunsets?

September 17, 2016

Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack.

Cameras chirp around us.

We sit mesmerized, staring into a sight as ancient as time; the tinkle of a distant bell on the water beckons. We are in the church of Nature, a stony fortress broken by the waters of a greater power – that which many have tried to define – leaving many others of us wondering what it truly is. Silently we enter and sit upon the rigid pews, the very seats from which life emerges.

A sun ray showers us with gold and casts long shadows. What is it about the sunset that calls to us? Why do we leave the comfort of our warm beds to capture a misty sunrise? There were hundreds of us huddled against the cool morning air. Now here we are exactly twelve hours later, drawn back to the light on that fluid horizon. We are subdued as if drugged.

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Sun rising around 6:30 AM. In Acadia we were the first in all of the U.S. to feel her rays.
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Sinking sun around 5 PM.
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Sun setting around 6:30 PM.

Click-clack, click-clack, click-clack.

A timelapse in progress.

This is a feathery sunset, a soft gold, a light touch. The air is crisp but not unkind. The scent of the sea, full of nostalgia even for first timers. The sun, hanging low and barely lifted over the fragile slip of horizon; hovering, like a holy orb.

A landscape is not just what you see. It’s what you hear, what you feel, what you smell, even what you think. It’s shaped by you and your perspective, your interpretation. Each landscape is different for each person. This thought occurs to me right as the sun disappears. A dragonfly flits by. Everyone is still. We are so varied, yet so united.

Andres on the Atlantic shore in Acadia.
Andres on the Atlantic shore in Acadia.

Click-clack, click-clack. Clack.

The timelapse ends.

Good night, dear sun, I hope you inspire someone else as we turn about you in an enduring dance.

Many of us linger in this place of worship. Unlike church, we do not race to the exit. We are in the exit, our souls free for a fleeting moment as we gaze into the quickening of night. There is a sense of community here on this little island of land protected in the midst of private-this and private-that. As if anyone can really privatize land forever.

I’m wondering, what really mesmerized us here?

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Our Centennial poster remembering the lighthouse on the rocks, shining into the night, after many golden sunsets. Click to see details!

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