Pacific coast

Pacific coast

“Men go forth to wonder at the heights of mountains,
the huge waves of the sea,
the broad flow of the rivers,
the vast compass of the ocean,
the courses of the stars,
and they pass by themselves without wondering.”
— Saint Augustine

What are we passing by?

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“Nobody goes to bed in Madrid until they have killed the night.”
— Ernest Hemingway, Death in the Afternoon

Sunset from the rooftop terrace of Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid

Sunset from the rooftop terrace of Circulo de Bellas Artes, Madrid

“The nights had become a disproportionately long counterpoint to days. . . . Going to bed was seen as a kind of failure, a renunciation of life.”
— Miranda Franca, Don Quixote’s Delusions: Travels in Castilian Spain

“Midnight has no significance for Spaniards and Cinderella could mean nothing to them, for the ball would hardly have begun when the clock struck twelve.”
— H. V. Morton, A Stranger in Spain

The most difficult part of traveling in Spain for me was adjusting to the late schedule.  At home, my ideal day would go something like this: rise and go running at 6:00 a.m., breakfast between 9:00 and 10:00 a.m., lunch lightly around 1:00 p.m., eat dinner by 6:00 and then no more food before bed, relax and read or watch a movie until I fall asleep by 9:30 or 10:00 p.m.

I took a break from running while I was in Spain, so my mornings there started a bit later, but I was usually up by 7:00 a.m.  Breakfasts, which were included with our hotel reservations, generally started around 8:00 or 8:30.  I had a feeling that these breakfast buffets were far more opulent than the typical Spanish breakfast one might eat at home.  I always felt well fortified for the day.

The later schedule started with lunch, which happened between 2:30 – 4:30 p.m.  When we were in Ronda strolling down a major shopping street, store owners started pulling down the doors of their shops as 2:30 neared.  Dinner happened around 9:30 – 11:30 p.m.

Our days were full because there were always so many new and interesting things to see and do.  It was hard to find enough down time.  When we did have a couple of free hours in the late afternoon, I would forgo a much needed siesta and instead upload, edit, and caption my photos.  It was important to me to stay on top of this task, and doing the work in daily batches helped.  But needless to say, I was worn out each and every night.

It is a mystery to me how Spaniards can function on so little sleep!

My adjustment difficulties made me appreciate the challenges faced by immigrants and refugees who are transplanted into cultures that are so different from their own.  They must so often feel out of sync and exhausted.  Can a round peg ever become comfortable in a square hole?

Sunset over the Atlantic, Cadiz

Sunset over the Atlantic, Cadiz

Sunset from the tour bus window, Linares

Sunset from the tour bus window, Linares

I was lucky to have been out and about for a couple of Spanish sunsets.  The setting sun has always meant the closing of the day to me.  However in Spain, sunsets signal the beginning of the best part of the day.

“One of the most beautiful moments in . . . Spain, is at sunset.  Twilight is briefer than in England, but it is not the sudden African swoop into darkness.  Sometimes I saw the towers of the cathedral growing black against the rose-red clouds that deepened to a fiery orange, and the whole plain, with its uplifted city on the hill, would fall into an important silence broken only be the sound of a church bell ringing out the last moments of another day.  It is a time of intense emotions, the real moment of truth, when one feels that all the Saints of Spain, Isidore, Idlefonse, Eulalia, Teresa, Ignatius, St. John of the Cross, must be gathered together in some corner of heaven looking down upon the land.”
— H. V. Morton, A Stranger in Spain

 

 

 

 

Sandhill cranes returning to Platte River to roost for the night

Sandhill cranes returning to Platte River to roost for the night

Sandhill cranes at sunset

Sandhill cranes at sunset

“It is a seductive space of suction and vortex, of migration and wandering and swirl.  Open to sun, open to lightening, each day and step have a distinct uncanny potential for revelation.”   —  Richard Powers, The Echo Maker

We watched the sandhill cranes return from the fields to the Platte River, where they roost at night.  The shallow sandbars provide a habitat relatively safe from predators.  There were a few early cranes claiming their roosting spots, but as the sun set, more and more strings of sandhills flew overhead, seemingly rushing to find safe harbor  before dark.

We weren’t as close the these wild birds as I would have liked for intimate photographic portraits, but the opportunity to see such vast numbers in huge flocks was as special in its own way.

“In sandhill cranes the daily flights to and from roosts are closely tied to light levels. . . . Almost cetainly light levels, rather than sunrise or sunset per se, are the critical factor, for in the Platte River area the cranes always begin returning to the river before sunset on cloudy days, but often wait until a half hour or later beyond sunset on sunny days with extended periods of twilight.”  — Paul A. Johnsgard, Cranes of the World

 

Tied to the Sky

August 6, 2014

“Sun came out today, which raised my spirits to a considerable degree.  How our bodies and minds are tied to the sky!”
— Molly Gloss, Wild Life

Nearing sunset on the Olympic Peninsula

Nearing sunset on the Olympic Peninsula

Those of us who live in the Pacific Northwest suffer from sun deprivation especially in winter.  These sunny summer days are noted and appreciated because we know gray skies will return.  Although I like clear, sunny days and blue skies, I think it is passing clouds that make sky-watching a rewarding pastime.  Nature gave us a dramatic presentation as we approached sunset on our drive home from the Olympic Peninsula.

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Through the car window

Through the car window

Over the Hood Canal Bridge

Over the Hood Canal Bridge

 

When Gray Is Enough

February 8, 2010

Beige slat of sun nearing sunset over Puget Sound

Otherwise, clouds. . .

Mind Wanting More
by Holly Hughes

Only a beige slat of sun
above the horizon, like a shade pulled
not quite down.  Otherwise,
clouds.  Sea rippled here and
there.  Birds reluctant to fly.
The mind wants a shaft of sun to
stir the grey porridge of clouds,
an osprey to stitch the sea to sky
with its barred wings, some dramatic
music:  a symphony, perhaps
a Chinese gong.

But the mind always
wants more than it has —
one more bright day of sun,
one more clear night in bed
with the moon; one more hour
to get the words right; one
more chance for the heart in hiding
to emerge from its thicket
in dried grasses — as if this quiet day
with its tentative light weren’t enough,
as if joy weren’t strewn all around.

This poem really speaks to me, especially during these gray days of winter when the doldrums lurk.  My husband and I met at Olympic Sculpture Park on Saturday evening for the 5:19 p.m. sunset.  We didn’t witness any brilliant pinks, oranges, or purples, but the soft slat of golden sky between the clouds was enough.

Messing about in Boats

July 26, 2009

Ballard Bridge at sunset

Ballard Bridge at sunset

Boat lit by the setting sun

Boat lit by the setting sun

Barge and tug at sunset

Barge and tug at sunset

When it come to boating and being on the water, my husband agrees with Rat from Wind in the Willows:

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.  Simply messing . . . In or out of ’em, it doesn’t matter.  Nothing seems to really matter, that is the charm of it.  Whether you get away, or whether you don’t; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you’re always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you’ve done it there’s always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you’d much better not.”
     — Kenneth Grahame, Wind in the Willows

My husband and I took his boat out after supper and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset on the water.  Ahhh, summer.