by Madis Senner
We are so used to thinking of fall as being the season of beautiful colors because of tree leaves changing hue. However, there is another spectacular beauty that appears in the fall – sunsets.
Some of the most spectacular sunsets I have ever seen were in the fall.
Beautiful sunrises and sunsets are created by the sunlight striking molecules and particles in the atmosphere. Light rays are deflected when they hit particles in the air. This is called “scattering,” because the light is scattered by the particles they strike.
What makes this scattering more dramatic in the fall and winter is that the sun is lower in the sky. Because of this sunlight must pass through more of the atmosphere before it comes into our vision. Consequently in the fall and winter sunlight is redirected and scattered much more.
One of things I do in the fall and early winter is to make sure that part of my drive home from a trip includes taking in a beautiful sunset. This means that if I go on a hike, visit a friend, or travel to a sacred area I make sure I leave an hour before sunset.
You may wish to catch a sunset on the eastern shore of one of our beautiful Finger Lakes. Or set your watch, or phone to notify you a little before sunset so you can walk outside and behold.
The real beauty of a spectacular sunset is that it allows us to be in the moment and take in the wonder and magnificence of Mother Earth. Sunsets are more than a visual phenomenon; they are an experience, because for a brief period of time we are captivated and absorbed with its wonder. No matter how much technology has provided us and shaped us, it is nothing compared to the grandeur of a beautiful sunset. When you are staring at a sunset you are participating in, arguably sharing with, an awe and wonder that dates back to when we (humankind) first walked the earth.
Mattie Stepanek (1990-2004) was a poet and peacemaker who died prematurely from a debilitating disease (dysautonomic mitochondrial myopathy). He was a regular on the Oprah show who captured our hearts with his maturity and depth of character. Mattie said, “Sunset is still my favorite color and the rainbow is my second.”
‘Find time this fall to take in the beauty and wonder of a sunset.