By Dave Smith
The sun bleeds down the western sky, trails rayed yellow-orange and touches of periwinkle across the horizon. Despite the dying day, heat beats with my pulse as sweat trickles my chest and wets my shirt. Greyish white clouds puff above the colors and here and there shadow the moments. A hint of wind’s breath in those shade places mingles with my damp T and creates an eerie cool against the humidity. “A 60% chance of showers will bring welcome relief from the unusually warm temperatures.” Weathermen must arbitrarily pick a number when they see grey clouds bumping together. A sprinkle would be nice on this walk of mine, this mile of miniscule delight to erase the temptations not ignored for yet another day that included a Dew and a snack. Speaking of…. 🙂
I plop onto the front stoop, perspire a wave to Gordon across the way, and dump the remains of the water bottle over my head. This day included mowing a business yard, work on the destruction/rebuild of kitchen cabinets, and vacuuming resulting dust. And Dew. And snack. My legs, especially these modern era knees, ache, tired from climb and push, yank and crank, squat and stretch, and the general burden of my not so svelte frame. I tug shirttails from beneath me, a taut, sticky reminder of the still in the 80’s summer evening settling over the neighborhood. “Red sky at night, sailor’s delight.” Great, another scorcher tomorrow. But I cannot complain, after all, this is August in Wisconsin and at the very least, we do not have those southern insects I met in trips to Georgia years ago. I glance beyond the gully trees to watch the sky change, to see and feel it mellow into oncoming dusk, into a deeper dark that brings fireflies, cricket chirrups, and scurries of chipmunks darting about the yard for before-bed eats. And maybe a Dew, who knew? I do enjoy their stuffed-with-seeds-from-the-bird-feeder fat cheeks. Even on the worst of days, sunset brings a bit of peace.
I stretch my bowed and scarred legs poking out of shorts. Rubbing those knees doesn’t help much, the miles of years too worn in. I laugh a little, thinking of one of my wives, forget which, telling me I should not have been so involved in sports or I should have taken better care of myself. Should have watched my weight better. Yea, I guess, but looking back and wistful thinking tends to wrestle away good memories and even worse, focuses thoughts on aches instead of sunsets. Do it all over – change anything? Wouldn’t be where I am today by changing yesterday. Wouldn’t be so sure of my tomorrow without the trial/error, success/failure of my life. I know many of you readers sit deeper into your sunsets than I. I, here on the stoop, sense the reds, yellow-orange, and periwinkle of your days that include some greyish-white clouds. And in heart I truly know we share the same tomorrow regardless of our yesterdays and the weariness of a today.
A bright yellow finch steals into my reverie, lands on the rail next to me. It looks, and black-eyed stares. A sparrow twitters and, out back, a woodpecker hammers his usual beats at the top of the old poplar or pine, depending on its mood. I think of showering, but not just now, not in this framed photo that captures this second, these seconds in my sunset years. To be so blessed with God’s touch through nature, in colors, in His settle at day’s end….this peace pulses with my heart now. Another hint of breeze seeps across the brown grass as that Holy Spirit flame disappears below the tree line. A poet of old, perhaps Tennyson or Yeats, spoke of his heart “leaping” at the sight of such beauty. I prefer the slow, easy rhythms of a bluesy saxophone playing “Stranger on the Shore” to the leaping idea. I am not sure which Biblical character spoke of being a ‘’stranger in a strange land”, but for me I have comfort in being no stranger to my savior and happy in in His hands in my sunset hours.