It’s 4:40 in the afternoon, two hours since a near-minus tide turned on itself and started its return towards the crest of the beach. Even now the beach is wider than I’ve seen it in weeks. Redwood Creek’s 67 mile run extends several yards farther out in the ocean than normal. Dark rocks usually encircled by ocean waves at the outpouring creek are reachable by dry sand this afternoon.
Don’t look at the sun! Tiny circles of gray temporarily burned into my eyes force me to use my peripheral vision for tonight’s sunset. A cold wind streams down the broad boulevard of sand from the north. One hundred gulls gather at the mouth of the creek. Two large and out of place pelicans do a poor job of hiding amidst the flock of gulls.
At 4:44 the edge of the sun kisses the thin line at the end of the world. A narrow band of distant fog shades a dark line across the sun’s bottom edge. The sky mellows, pale blues slip into soft grays while a fiery orange glows on the horizon.
By 4:46 the sun is nearly halfway gone. Baby blanket colors, pinks and blues, tint the thin clouds. At 4:47, it’s just a rounded orange speed bump, then a thumb tack, then a dot.
By 4:48, the sun is gone. No flash of green. No angel choirs. No great splash or sizzling steam. Just gone. The ocean seems calmer and quieter though I know that’s my imagination. The beach darkens to a cold gray. My northbound footprints at the water’s edge are dark shadows in the sand where they haven’t already been erased by incoming waves.
Four minutes from beginning to end. Four minutes for a burning ball of gas 870,000 miles across and 95 million miles away to slide across the line between earth and sky three miles from where I stand.
In the east, in the fading pink sky, the pointed green tips of the world’s tallest trees serrate the pink-tinged eastern horizon where tomorrow, it starts all over again.