Bravo to the magic hour…

It’s been pretty scorching hot around the ranch these days, and I’ll tell you it’s not because of the sexy outfits I’ve been wearing to stay cool.

No, that’s not it at all. It’s just typical late July/early August for you. But you have to appreciate a place on the map where in the matter of six months you can experience a 130 degree weather shift.

March

July

Seriously.

I will be remembering this past weekend of 90+ temperatures when I am in my seven layers topped off with a hooded down parka that reaches my ankles.

Oh yes, I will remember.

But this morning as the thermometer stretches toward 80 degrees and it is only 8 am, I am remembering 30 below…and thinking no matter what, I like summer better. Hands down.

Because after a long, hot day where we’ve watched the sun emerge from the horizon and make its merry little way across the sky, beating down on our lawns and flower beds, sweating up our skin as we stand there, coaxing the flies to buzz around our ears and the corn in the east to stretch its arms a little higher, we sigh and sip our iced tea knowing that in a few hours we may be awarded a sweet reprieve. A breath. A sigh. A little cool-off before we hastily throw some burgers on the grill at dark and crawl under the sheets.

I call it the magic hour.

Others call it evening. Sunset. Dusk. Twilight. It’s that fleeting time where the sun moves slowly toward the west side of the world, promising soon to sink below the horizon, but not before it casts long shadows, turns the hilltops to gold, calls out the dragonflies, kisses the coulees with cool air, and fills our nostrils with the scents of crisp clover, wildflowers and grasses.

It’s the perfect time to grab your horse and head for the hills. Because if it was a windy day, the witching hour calms the breeze. If it was a hot and muggy day you might find yourself some cloud cover at the cusp of an oncoming thunder storm. If it was a sunny, 80+ day and you are out during the perfect time, you will literally feel the temperature dropping around you and your skin cool down as you ride or walk in and out of the draws and up the hill to catch the sunset.

We wait for it here, the magical hour, as we wipe our brow, salty and glistening from a day of work or play. But it’s all about timing, and we have turned it into a science.
See, if you jump the gun too early in the day, you will be saddling your horse in the intense sun of the late afternoon. The flies will still be nasty, you will be sweating profusely, your horse will be stomping at the pests and heat and you might get a little cranky riding toward that sunset waiting for the orange ball in the sky to move along already.
If you head out to the barnyard too late you will be rushing things trying to race the dark. And by the time you get on and move out you will have missed the the moments where the sun highlights the black backs of the cows on the side hill, the air shifts and cools your skin, the sun changes from yellow to pink and the deer might be moving and emerging from the thick trees. And your ride will be cut short, because once that sun touches the last hill your eye can see, it gets dark fast.
So you can see why it’s a craft can’t you?  You can see why we watch the sky, take notice of our skin and the shadows and when the sun is in the just the right spot, more west than middle, more down than up, more moderate than hot, we pull on our longer sleeves, head to the tack room to grab a bucket of grain and saddle up.
We climb on and head out along the edges of the oak groves and stay in their shadows while the sun moves a little closer to the edge of our world.

And when we’re cooled down we climb up to the nearest hill to see if we can catch a deer as it moves out of the trees to graze among the clover, to watch the dragonflies dart and dive, to catch the moment when the landscape turns from a painting with all the right highlights to a mysterious shadow with a strip of orange hovering above it.
And before that sun greets the other side of the world completely, we turn and head back home, cooled off, satisfied, decompressed, a little tired, a little hungry, a little more alive…
Because it turns out there are others who are waiting in the shadows for the cool down, for the sun drop, for the magic hour…
for the dragon flies…

And we don’t want to miss their show…


Bravo summer.
Bravo sky.
Bravo my crazy cats.
Bravo, bravo, bravo magnificent world.

20 thoughts on “Bravo to the magic hour…

  1. Nice piece. My cat couldn’t chase a dragonfly if she tried. Yours, on the other hand are adorable with their antics. Beautiful scenery, beautiful thoughts of sundown and grim thoughts of this past winter. Thanks.

  2. Amazing photographs as usual. 🙂
    Those cats are crazy! My dog Kiki chases butterflies and autumn leaves like that. It’s a passion. You have to love animals for the enthusiasm they have for such things!

    • Aren’t the cats something? I’ve never seen anything like it…they were so into this game, so serious about it…and really impressive with their leaps and quickness. I could have sat out there and watched them with their acrobatics for hours! Hope all is well Dawn.

  3. Thanks for the GREAT ending – in more ways than one. The end to the day, the end to the story (your crazy cats) and the end to hating the heat. Your story made me realize how much I do love ND summers. Ann Reed has a song called “Hole in the Day” and that’s what your sunsets remind me of – the sun and all of its light slipping through a hole in the day into tomorrow and all we have to do is turn around and face the East to find it again.

  4. Your great pics of the cats made me laugh out loud. Always a good thing! We could all use a lot more laughter in out lives.

  5. I too, wait forwhat I call “The golden hour” on a hot summer day. The morning sunrise was spectacular and the evening sun was red and inbetween was that perfect North Dakota day. The day ended as I watched the dragonflies and was in awe of how they dive and hover. Your cats did what we humans forget to do….play with nature. I don’t remember the last time I chased a dragonfly or caught a butterfly. I guess I need to be more like your cats……

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