Everybody wants to watch the sunset, don’t they?
Whether we want to or not, it won’t happen for us because we live on the shady side of the hill. That means the days seem much shorter because shadows start creeping in early from the late afternoon sun. Sometimes it feels like dusk, yet when we drive around the hill there’s a beautiful sun-filled day still underway, with seemingly hours left to go.
Sometimes when we see that pink cast on the underside of the clouds, we scurry to the top of the hill to look out at the fantastic sunset that’s happening on the other side. Otherwise, we only see the second-hand effects of nature’s sunset drama.
We remember reading Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. The people of Cortona thought she was crazy to buy the house on the “other side” of the mountain. The house was called Bramesole, which means that which yearns for the sun. Everyone there thought it was too shady and would be a depressing place to live and even harder to maintain a garden. That was the very reason it was still vacant and had been for some time.
What we have discovered is that for every shadow there is light. As the shade crawls across the valley floor, the day isn’t over. Instead, the show is just about to begin. Sitting on the terrace in the dusky clarity of the evening we watch the distant mountain ridge in anticipation. Sure enough, we see a glint of light sneaking out of the blue-gray silhouette. The moon is on the rise, as Creedence Clearwater Revival sang in 1969, except this time it’s a good one. And once again, it’s spectacular! Salmon-yellow in color and glowing like an ember after the fire, it rises with incredible speed and intention. Within one or two minutes it’s teetering on the ridge like a huge marble ready to roll down into the valley. But instead, it soars upward like a bouncing ball into the steel blue sky, changing color as it passes through cloud banks. Soon it is well on its way, high into the heavens where it hangs, motionless, lighting everything in sight with that pervasive subtle glow. There is nothing quite like it.
We sit in awe of nature’s majestic dance, snapping pictures, trying to capture just a small impression of the incredible performance. Then nightfall is upon us and we head to the kitchen, silently preparing the evening meal, inspired by what we’ve seen, and readying the dinner theater for the next act. The air is so clear and the light so bright we really don’t even need candles, but they become our meager contribution to the mood—a perfect evening ritual.
That’s what life is like on the shady side of the hill. For those who think the show is made of bright light and sunsets, they are only partially right. Maybe later on we can talk about another benefit of living in the shade—a morning sunrise streaming through the bedroom window.
Moonrise and sunrise are double scoops of our favorite gelato on a warm summer’s day.
Note: You may also enjoy a related story called “Before the Sun Sets.”