(Host) Commentator Ruth Page recently saw a very special light-show. She describes that offering of Nature as a sample of the kind of experience we all “luck into” from time to time.
(Page) A full moon low over the Gulf of Mexico looks even larger than our glorious Harvest Moon here. On the morning of April 6, I was out for a walk on the beach at Siesta Key in Sarasota, Florida. I stood entranced for many minutes, stunned by nature’s unexpected light-show: the full moon settling toward the waves in the West, the sun just beginning to come up in the East, enough thin clouds to capture color from both.
Molten gold bathed the water in a broad sweep, sparkling on the calm sea. The cirrus clouds began to take on an amethystine flush, mingling with soft pinks, lavenders, greeny-blues. To the East the sun was rising among low clouds that blushed pink, purplish, pale green-and-gold, then a flashing, luminous red, as Apollo showed off his “rosy-fingered dawn.” Diana didn’t sizzle audibly when her own great globe fell below the horizon, but Apollo lavishly spread his colors over both areas: his intense flames of skyfire in the East, her soft pastels that melted into the sweep of light cloud in the West. Diana’s shades were gentle, nacreous; Apollo’s were a scarlet trumpet-shout of Dawn. It was the most moving display of sky-lighting I’ve ever experienced, outdoing even the Northern Lights I’ve seen in Vermont.
There were very few people on the beach at that hour; I felt privileged. In daytime the beach is packed with people, but early mornings belong to Nature. The seagulls gather, facing into the breeze. The pelicans swoop and dive across the gullies, and I watch them strike with the power of a driven spear, pick up the fish, tilt their heads back, quickly flip it to go head first down the gullet, and instantly rise to dive again.
The madly busy little sandpipers twinkle across the sands, racing from the water’s edge, then racing back, in perpetual motion. Their tiny beaks constantly probe the sand just at the water’s fringe, finding minute sea-scraps for breakfast. Now and then a group of flying gulls screeches simultaneously, like a million finger-nails scraping a million blackboards. At least one species is colored as precisely as a Sabra Field painting. Each black cap stops in an exact arc on the neck, and I wonder how feathers can grow so perfectly. Their bodies are grey and white, their pointed black tails crossed with mathematical precision.
One other experience, far briefer, I finally enjoyed after many years of visiting Siesta Key: I saw the Green Flash. One evening we had a clear sky, the scarlet sun dove into the Gulf, and at that split instant, there was a flash of green. It wasn’t just a nano-second gift; it lasted, in a paintbrush streak where sky and sea met, for a couple of seconds.
Aesthetically and spiritually speaking, I’d had a lovely introduction to Spring.
This is Ruth Page, at home in Shelburne, Vermont.