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The Sunset Club

Thursday, February 4, 2016

 I'm pretty frugal. I spend most of my money on food, a good safe car, and excellent optics. Sure, I'll do a therapeutic shop every once in a blue moon, but you can bet it'll be at an outlet store (Hello, Eddie Bauer Outlet and Warehouse, thanks for dressing me top to toe!) I pretty much loathe movie theaters, paying lots of money to watch something ehh, and standing in line for anything. Drag me to an amusement park and I'm likely to spend my time watching people and the house sparrows, scrambling for crumbs.  I don't like to sit down to do anything but draw or write, and half the time I'm standing at the drawing table. So: Frugal and restless.

One of the things I absolutely loved about Sanibel Island when I visited years ago was the sunset culture that thrives there. People actually plan for sunset. They walk or get in their cars and carry lawnchairs to the beach to watch it, sort of loosely together. I thought that was the most wonderful thing! A whole community gets that the best show they can watch is free, and they gather to watch it together.

So it is entirely in keeping that I've become attached to watching sunrises and sunsets. Sure, we all enjoy a good sunset, but how many of us actually make a date with them, and get up while it's still dark to assess the cloud/sun/sky potential, or prep dinner at 3 pm so as to be out for the 5:45pm February matinee?  I ask this rhetorically, knowing that too many most excellent nominees for the Sunset Club are likely to be on a conference call or otherwise locked inside when the show starts, and for that I apologize. Long summer evenings are coming!

The first thing we do when a meeting of the Sunset Club commences is get outside somewhere picturesque. The regularly meeting Club currently consists of a President and Vice President. Here is the Veep, reporting for duty. We have members in Maine, Whipple, and Marietta, Ohio as well. You can join. I don't even have to know about it. The only requirements are that you be mindful of good sunrise/sunset opportunities, pay attention, and are properly appreciative of the shows.

Tip: Try to attain a high promontory before the show reaches full intensity. The climbing is good for your heart, and the view is good for your soul.

Dress warmly. Temperatures can plummet near sunset.

Pay attention to the main show; i.e. the one going on, Stage West, around the fabled star upon which we depend for all life.  This goes without saying. BOOM.

However, you must make sure to spin around to take in the auxiliary show, which is often as good or, in its own way, better than the one on the main stage.

Yes. All of these photos make me want to lie down and roll around in the cold damp grass. Perfectly permissible, if you're dressed for it. See where the "high promontory" comes in? It's best to get up so high you've got unobstructed views both west and east.

East views can be gentler, less dramatic, but so powerful, too.

Don't forget to whip around and see what that star of our is up to, though!
In the Sunset Club, we do a lot of spinning around.

Watching sunsets is all about gratitude. It's about feeling very small and humble as something much larger and more grandiose than anything you could dream of goes on all around you. 

It's about paying attention, too, and setting your body clock to 4:15 pm, to look outside and notice whether there are nice clouds floating over, clouds with the potential to dazzle when lit by the matchless spectrum of the low setting sun. It's about situational awareness: not letting such a thing slip by because you were otherwise occupied. 

The Sunset Club is founded on seeking out your joy, and making a conscious effort to connect with it, no matter what else may be going on in your life.

It's about being thankful for all we are given, every single day. And that includes every moment of every day. Each one is a gift. It's up to us to use those moments well. 

Counting your blessings is an excellent use of moments. Phoebe told me to name them every night before I close my eyes. Good exercise. The child shall lead...

I'll leave you with a thought that Shila gave me when I was struggling. 

"What we focus on expands. Which is bad when we focus on fear and lack."

So I'm making a conscious effort to focus not on what I long for, but on all that is joyful and abundant in my life, the people and things, big and small, that I'm so thankful for that it raises a lump in my throat.

See you at sunset?


Clouds in general always catch my eye. So much more these days that Hubby commented that he didn't remember me even noticing them in the past. Case in point, I enjoyed a glorious shelf-like cloud at the close of yesterday. Cloud on!

Posted by Anonymous February 4, 2016 at 8:37 AM

Signing up here in Danbury, CT, but have been an unofficial member for a while now!

Driving to my son's school and then to mine, I am a member of the Sunrise Club. Bare corn fields topped by skeletal trees topped by impressionist skies make the morning commute something to look forward to here in NE Ohio.

About a fourth of the photos on my iphone, and nearly as many on my camera are cloud shots. Here in Kansas, we are blessed with wide open skies and unbelievable sunrises and sunsets. One of my missions in life has been to get everyone to look up at the incredible scenery in the sky.

As my westward facing view is very much tree filled, sunsets are definitely enjoyed in a different manner...either enjoying the sunbursts through the forest or from the rays that are reflecting on the pines across the pond to the east.

Subtle but very enjoyable.

I spent several vacations and visits to Sanibel/Captiva enjoying their sunsets. Also, Key West has a memorable Sunset Celebration on Mallory Square. Florida...doing sunsets right.

Sunrise and Sunset, gratitude for each and every one; joy, when the atmospheric conditions conspire to create something astounding in its beauty.

I am addicted to moonrise and moonset as well, although they are not as easily caught. It's wonderful when the stars align such that sunset is followed by moonrise or moonset is followed by sunrise.

FL member of the Sunset club,

Posted by Gail Spratley February 4, 2016 at 10:08 AM

Beautiful post. I too am a moon rise/set addict :-).

Beautiful, baby. Thanks for reminding us of the daily profound. Xom

This time of year it can be harder to catch a good sunrise or set, but there's another sky gift frequently available - a glorious rainbow! With our frequent Pacific Northwest rain there are just as often sun breaks. Sunshine on one side of the road, rain on the other, and there you are, goggling at a rainbow - sometimes a double - with every shade of the spectrum visible. Always a gift at just the right time.

I'll join.

I've always been a fan of sunrises and sunsets. Life is always better for stopping and enjoying their magnificence.

Eyes always to the skies. The bluffs along Lake Erie provide a gorgeous view of the lake, clouds and setting sun. And at home my front porch is the place to be in the morning.

Sunrise is my favorite, as our house looks east, and I enjoy it most in solitude.

Great post. Thanks for reminding me to just look up.

Sigh. Once again, beautiful words, beautiful thoughts, beautiful photos. Thank you.

One of the pluses of driving to work (east) and home (west)during the grey dark winter is the spectacular shades of grey, yellow and gold that so subtly color the sky with the late sunrises and early sunsets, and heavy cloud cover. I want to turn around, go home and dye the colors straight into fabric, but I don't think my boss would understand...

i love this! i'm going to start a sunset club and send you a photo. Our sunsets in my suburb of Seattle is the crow fly-over on their way to their night roost. Their flight in the hundreds is our sign that the sun down is coming.

Bryony Angell

Hi Julie,
I live in Albuquerque, which has front and back sunsets; we get alpenglow off the Sandia Mountains to the east of town. Check out a local blog IOBurque, "Inhabitants of Burque" for wonderful sunrise/sunset pix. Some of the blog is kinda lame, some of it is fascinating. Like living in the Q.
I enjoyed your Arizona series. Went to college in eastern Indians, grew up near Philadelphia, fell in love with NM.
The best thing about our city is that when you step outside, you really are outside, with paths, parks, the mountain and the Rio Grande bosque ready to explore.
Susan Hunter

beautiful post. I stop by here and there and always love reading you.

Gorgeous, wonderful, perfectly said. It's out there, for the drinking in, if you just remember to look up, look out, look all around.

Alas, buildings do have a habit of getting in my way on sunset opportunities from home. That IG photo I got from Annenberg the other day, at the very end of a snow day--well, note that your sweet daughter had the good sense to head for the river, where there's oh so much more sky to enjoy. She's been taught well. Bless whoever left the gate open on the Mem Drive side of Winthrop House for her and Corey that afternoon!


Posted by KHMacomber February 9, 2016 at 6:29 PM

We travel with friends to Captiva every winter. The Sunset Club there applauds for the fabulous show every night.


the back porch of my 3rd floor apartment faces west - I have no houses near me back there and a beautiful view of 2 small mountains - when I'm home, particularly in the good weather, I'll bring a chair out back, pour a cup of tea and call the cat - we sit for a while watching the sky - best time of the day!

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