The Sky's Daily Surprise
"The sky is a different shade every time."
My family quickly gathered on the pier to take a group photo with the setting sun, which wasn't about to wait for anyone as it disappeared behind the clouds that kissed the water's surface. My tallest cousin wrapped his arms around us and laughed heartily. The picture captured delicate sun rays streaming above him and illuminating the top of his head. When the last photograph was taken, the sun was no longer visible, but it left behind a night buzzing with color.
This was my second time visiting Cobb Island--being the last of our family trips for the summer, I knew we had to make the most of it. We spent our days on the pier overlooking the Potomac River, fishing for stars and kneeling on the wood to catch a glimpse of creatures beneath the surface. Spots, croakers, and perches leapt in the air, and the shells of blue crabs almost blended in with the incoming waves. We never noticed we were underneath a blanket of changing colors, but the clouds continued moving, the sun turned orange, and the breeze picked up seamlessly. We walked in and out of the vacation home, catching a break from the blazing heat with fresh slices of watermelon and reapplying our sunscreen before heading back out. Each time, the sky welcomed us with a little surprise. We always came together to appreciate its final gift before the cycle of day began once more.
Every night, the sunset was entirely unique. The first night, gray-blue clouds blanketed the sky, but left a perfect space for the sun. The clouds began to glow with an ambient amber and surely enough, the sun peeked through and warmed the surface of the water with its orange hue. Vibrant streaks of color remained even after the sun made its full descent. The water became a perfect mirror, and it reflected the tangerine to silver-blue gradient that painted the sky. My family was enveloped in color--it almost looked like they were becoming part of the artwork.
The second night, the sky remained a pure blue, and clouds were sparse other than the few clusters that were tinged with with a flaming pink. They looked like swift brushstrokes that swooped across the cerulean expanse and turned gray when the sun finally fell asleep. If I imagined hard enough, the clouds almost looked like wings. The wind blew softly and lovingly tousled our hair. It felt warm against our faces and made our footsteps feel extra light and airy. On this night, my artist uncle decided on the name for his next masterpiece: "Remnants," a future sculpture dedicated to lost memories with the hope of being salvaged.
The final night, we were waiting for the grand finale, and it didn't disappoint. It was subtler than the other sunsets, but it left me feeling a gentle hum in my heart. The sun sank underneath a lined dash of clouds and paused picturesquely over the pier next to us, setting in between the pillars and disappearing into the sea, melting like a stick of butter. Rays of light continued peering softly over the clouds, reminding us that the sky wasn't done with its show. We stayed outside until the moon was the only source illuminating the water's surface. My cousin and I sat shoulder to shoulder at the pier's edge.
Sitting outside with my legs dangling over the water, I was overcome with the beauty of an everyday occurrence. I sometimes forget to appreciate the sunsets and close my eyes to the sound of the water lapping over the rocks. A heron flew towards the sleeping sun, and a fishing rod was cast towards the rising moon. Every small detail felt purposeful, each sound--the crickets, the soft laughter, the rushing waves-- blended perfectly to create nature's symphony.
My family and I walked back inside smelling faintly of sunscreen and sweat. My uncle was obviously reinvigorated from the most beautiful source of inspiration. I was the most at ease I felt in a long time; watching those sunsets reconfirmed that purely beautiful sights exist. They're precious and effervescent, but never fail to salvage memories of the sky I sometimes forget I have.
At the same time, I felt uplifted to preserve these wondrous nights for future sightseers who may just need to rely on the sky to soothe their minds. Everybody should be able to witness the dazzling spectacle of a vivid sunset, where the brilliant colors aren't obscured or hazy. Each person who will visit this pier will watch a different night unfold, one that is just as captivating as the one before and after.
Sunsets never get old. They always leave each day a bit more colorful.