I love this time of day, when the sun has set and the world begins to quiet. The traffic slows, the dogs bed down, the world seems to pull the covers higher.
This was actually the last photo I took last evening. I had finished watching sunset and walked towards the house from the back yard. As I stepped onto the porch, I looked up at the dinner bell, black itself but blackened further by being silhouetted against the dim south sky. The trees stood bare, bony fingers stretched skyward. In the middle, an almost-first quarter moon commanded a spot. I walked inside just as the air began to cool, the traffic began to slow, the barn lot dogs made for their meager houses.
Yet moments before ...
The tree besides Sam's lane always catches my gaze at sunset. I've watched it for nearly 26 years now and it is mine in appreciation if not actual title. The sky was smeared with orange ... not so bright, really, but diffuse, pastel, a soft fire burning in the distance.
Looking closer at that central region, there was a spot, not so easily seen in this photo, where the sunlight had refracted through ice crystal clouds and glowed with a rainbow of colors. All was wiped across the sky by a broad brush, not carefully or precisely, but roughly and abstractly.
Finally, not yet 5:30 pm (we are just a month from the winter solstice, thus the days are nearly as short as they'll get), the sun has dropped far enough below the horizon to begin losing its influence, withdrawing its light by degrees. Clouds which resemble a thin smoky haze become prominent well above the horizon. Farther overhead, the sky already takes on the darker shades of night.
It is clouds that make this scene possible. A perfectly clear sky has none of this power.