March 1, 2019

Memorable Sunsets

By Mary Schricker Gemberling

In July of 2003 my cousin Joan lost her husband from a sudden death heart attack. Knowing that those first holidays without a loved one are the most difficult, I suggested that we break with tradition and go to Florida during the Thanksgiving week. It was on that trip that I remember my first particularly meaningful sunset. I don’t know if it was our heightened emotions or our search for something constant in a life of uncertainties, but the sunset became proof that no matter what happens, every day can end beautifully!

This memory came to me the other night while Gary and I were sitting on our deck in Florida enjoying yet another sunset. We have viewed and photographed a seemingly infinite number of sunsets across five continents in the nine years since we met but never seem to tire of this nightly ritual. I asked Gary where he might have seen his favorite sunsets; he thought it was probably during those early days of our courtship on a visit to Florida when we watched those first sunsets together.

One of my most memorable sunsets occurred on our visit to South Africa. After a day on safari where we had been dazzled by the enormity of the rhinos and elephants, the speed of leopards and the grace and majesty of the giraffes, dusk was upon us. Our driver stopped our jeep, asked us to cautiously climb out while he set up a small spread of wine and munchies on the tailgate. As the sun sank below the horizon, burning the sky red, pink and orange, we reflected on a day in the wild and felt we had witnessed a day of miracles.

Some of the more unique sunsets we have seen were in Key West Florida. A sunset celebration begins every evening at Mallory Square and the streets fill with people taking part in the celebration. Tightrope walkers, animal acts, jugglers, and musicians all bring the scene to life. The palm trees and sail boats on the horizon add dimensional flare to the deep hues of reds and oranges dotting the sky.

So what makes those colors so beautiful at that particular time of the day? The colors of the sunset result from a phenomenon called scattering. Scattering affects the color of light coming from the sky, but the details are determined by the wavelength of the light and the size of the particle. The short-wave length blue and violet are scattered by molecules in the air much more than other colors of the spectrum. Because the sun is low on the horizon, sunlight passes through more air

at sunset. If the path is long enough, all the blue and violet light scatters out of your line of sight. The other colors continue on their way to your eyes. And because red has the longest wave length of any visible light, the sun is red when it’s on the horizon where the atmosphere blocks all the other colors

From watching the sun lower into Patagonia’s Lake Llanquihue; or seeing the blue waters around Maui give way to the pinks and reds of the horizon; or waiting for the sunset in Sedona Arizona to gently paint the red rocks with vibrant glowing colors, each experience was unique to its environment. Sometimes we do not have to travel farther than our own backyard. Often on a summer evening when it is time to end the day we will sit on our porch and take in the splendid beauty of the setting sun and know, beyond the boundaries of science, we are witnessing another of God’s canvases.

“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator”………Mahatma Gandhi

Mary Schricker Gemberling

Mary, a former educator and Seniors Real Estate Specialist, is the author of three books; The West End Kid, Labor of Love; My Personal Journey through the World of Caregiving, and Hotel Blackhawk; A Century of Elegance.

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