What one longs for at this time of the year... a sunset so vivid and powerful and luminous that it brings a shoreline witness to her knees, makes her want to dance (or more likely hobble and lurch) along the beach in sheer full-blown delight, sing and shout her thanks to the Great Round for putting on such an astonishing show.
I call them hallelujah sunsets. In April and October, the sun goes down in flames over a favorite lake in the Lanark highland, attended by flocks of returning birds, an appreciative canine (Spencer) and one old hen carrying a camera and tripod (me). No herons have turned up as yet this year, but the first great northern loon of the season splashed into the lake this past weekend, and we were ecstatic. There is still snow in the hills across the water, and there is ice in the center of the lake, but sometimes, just sometimes, there is an echo of eternity too, a moment of kensho or true seeing out there in the wind, a fleeting glimpse into something sacred, something grand and timeless and transcendent.
Only a fool would try to paint such an April sunset (I'm a fool of course), and even the best of photos seldom captures more than a scrap of the magic in such liminal moments. If these sunsets were potions, they would be heady concoctions - brews rich and sparkling, potent enough to convey wonder and enlightenment and vibrant immortality. An April sunset is fine wine indeed.
For the next week or so, I will be viewing April's intense sunsets from the depths of my parka, and much of the gloss before my eyes will be lake and river ice. Even that cannot dull their technicolor glory or dim their magnificence.