I am obsessed with the evenings, especially in the summer. After a long, hot day working or playing in the sun (or just watching it bake the landscape out your open office window), the sun that you thought might hang happily in the sky forever has been slowly creeping down the other side of the world while you talked on the phone, shoveled dirt, sped happily along the highway or slept the day away.
I imagine the sun feels under appreciated during this time of year, especially in North Dakota. So when it’s finally time to hit the horizon, it goes down with drama and flair, accessories shining, hair coifed for a night on the town saying: “Hey, don’t take this for granted people…I’m going on vacation in a month and you will miss this hot mess then!”
But I don’t take it for granted. In fact, I am filled with guilt on a beautiful night in the summer if I am not out there in it, soaking it up, breathing in the calm air in the cool valleys if the ranch, and climbing to the top of the hills to watch the sun put on his Vegas style show. And each time the summer sun sets out here I quickly re-hash my day, counting all of the ways I really lived it…all of the ways I frolicked and smiled and sweat and basked in the rays. It’s almost as if I am collecting these perfect summer days in order to seal them tight in a jar on my desk so I can use them later, you know, like on one of the cold days we have around here.
So I am thinking about these days of summer, and all of the sunsets I have witnessed from the top of the buttes. Especially today. Because today is August 25th, the first day of school and my birthday (in case anyone was waiting for it), which always signals for me, really, the last day of summer. The days are getting shorter, the nights cooler, the clover and the wildflowers that were so lush are drying out, the wild berries dropping from their stems.
North Dakotans everywhere have made and lived their final vacation plans and filed away their summer photos. The kids of summer traded swimsuits and jeans with worn out knees for fresh school clothes and were forced by their loving parents at 7 am this morning to stand up against the front door (eye crusties, freshly washed hair and clean, new backpacks in tow) for a final farewell-to-summer photo that will be used against poor child in every slideshow of their life to come. The first of many organized mortifying moments to occur this year.
So since I am not of school age anymore (my 27th birthday reminding me of this today as I got out of bed, looked in the mirror and my hair still looked like a lion’s mane, but with a few grays poking through) I decided, last night, to make my own farewell-to-summer slideshow.
And the sun must have noticed my camera, because what a show it was. He pulled out all the stops as his light reflected off prairie grasses, creating a sparkle, a shine, on each stem. He cast long, dramatic, shadows along the hillsides and off the bodies of beasts. He turned the trees black, gave the clover one last shot at bright yellow and painted the sky orange, then pink, then a dark, dark, blue, then all of those colors combined. He was in such form even the coyotes stood on the hills and the deer came out of the brush to lend their applause.
And even with all of the frills, the sun is generous at the end of the day, especially when the moon has gone to the trouble of putting on his party pants. So after the fireworks and the spectacle he created, the sun turned the lights down low, calmed the wind, made everything dead quiet, and left with a whisper.
And all eyes were on the moon.
Happy end of summer kids and parents and people like me. Hope it has gone out with the style and fashion of the sun.
Cheers to a new season and a new outfit!