The air was still pleasant as I stepped outside at about sunset and walked across the field to our east. Because the moon was close to full, it was opposite the sun and was rising at the sun set. I was hoping for a few clouds to help bring the sunset shades to light and even looking east, through the mostly blue sky, I could see those slight wisps of moisture that promised to give the sky color. It is not perfection that makes a scene - that is boring - but imperfection that brings out the best of the world.
And so, with a rising moon on one hand, I turned and walked back towards Pinehaven and looked to the western sky instead.
There, above the cut corn, were the tenuous clouds waiting for ignition, ready for the fire of sunset. The ice crystal cirrus, common "mares tail" clouds, streaked the entire sky and began, as both the sun and the temperature dropped, to come alive with pastel color.
Minutes later a jet contrail, one of many, coursed through the sky, a still-white plume in the sun's direct rays. But look below as the sky begins to glow with pinks, warm reds and oranges and gold.
And but a few minutes more and the telltale red of the setting sun now casts that warmer light on the jet, too. The pure light of the sun is angled ever higher as I, down here in the field, stand in chilling shadow.
Now the true colors of sunset take over. The sun is well below the horizon and the strip of orange becomes thinner. The blue above returns; the cirrus are lit by red as night approaches.
But zooming in on the tree to the left, that sky is still afire. The embers are still alive; the sky is awash with gold.
Moving back, the clouds and contrails do their job, offer themselves up to reflection. It is like looking at a golden plate, held to the light and almost too bright for mere eyes.
At sunset's peak, the bright oranges fade and reds begin to appear. Night comes pressing down from above. The corn stubble at my feet darkens and my steps must be more carefully placed. The nighttime animals begin to stir while the birds take to their roost. All is silent.
When I cross the field and again step onto my own property, I look back towards the sun, through our row of pines, and see night falling like a curtain. The pines become mere silhouettes.
Finally, as I approach the house, the moon has grown brighter and competes with the maple for attention. In the day, the maple with its fire-engine leaves takes your breath away. But now, as it fades in darkness, the moon commands my last view.
"Where have you been?" Dad asks as I step back into the warm house. I had planned no more than a short walk across the road to watch the sun set behind Pinehaven. But I had become so taken by the spectacle that time had slipped away. I pull off my jacket, put away my shoes and smile at my absolute good fortune.
The world turns. Day slides into night. It is all good. Tomorrow it will all begin anew.