Like a well choreographed dance routine, we simultaneously slipped the straps over our shoulders. Inside each brown nylon cocoon was a collapsible chair. Then we each wiggled our free hand into the black straps of the silver trekking poles, grasping the round cork ends. Cheryl reached toward the weathered wood trunk by the front door for the camera, as I picked up the lavender two-bottle wine carrier with the black stitched edging. The cut-out handle slipped effortlessly into my left hand. One side of the carrier held two white plastic cups, while the other side snugly fit around the black-topped blender bottle, filled with an enticing concoction of the classic, secret formula Campari, along with cold blood-orange-juice from Sardinia.
Ready to go.
We’ve been talking about hiking up to the top of the hill to watch the sunset for years. It was always part of the story we told ourselves about how life could be at this little Tuscan retreat. We sometimes caught the sunset from the car as we rounded a curve. But rather than an accidental sighting, we wanted to deliberately plan sunset viewing. However, as many stories go, some activities get delayed. And some, sad to say, are never actualized. But our wait and our anticipation was over. It was time to realize our long-standing plan and hit the trail!
We calculated that the sun would set around 7:30 during late spring days, so we decided to head out around 7:00 or so. It was a beautiful spring evening and the air was fresh and crisp, sneaking in around the collars of our light jackets. The coolness felt really good. The hill behind the house is fairly steep, but only for a short distance before leveling off at the wooded pine trail that meanders along the ridge. Our destination was not in question, because we always imagined building a stone bench in that particular clearing overlooking the rolling hills beyond—facing due west. The alberi di cipresso e querce, cypress and oak trees framed the view like bookends amid the soft and lower forms of ginestre, dutch broom and the rambling cespugli di mora, blackberry bushes. Spring grasses grow tall here, just long enough to bend gently in the breeze. The scene was picture-perfect as if made specifically for sunset-lovers like us.
We placed our chairs in the prime location just like we imagined and settled in for the show. The final act would be taking place in about 10-15 minutes, so our timing was perfect. We poured the crimson apertivi into the white cups and relaxed back into the sling chairs. Sure enough, the golden sun began its dramatic descent as the sky turned from blue to yellow to a tawny red—just about the same color as our orange-juice cocktails.
It’s amazing how fast the sun moves in the last moments of the day—as if trying to surprise us all by darting away when no one is looking. But we were watching, and its antics weren’t wasted as we enjoyed every last second of the impressive show.
On the walk home, we talked about how beautiful it was and how we could make it one of those special Tuscan rituals. We also talked about why it took us 10 years to make that short evening trek. It was so simple and yet so powerful—why did we put it off for so long? As often happens, compelling activities are set aside, relegated to the “someday” list when they could be on the “everyday” list, as some of the most profound and inspirational experiences.
Watching nature’s everyday drama that spring evening caused us to seriously reconsider what’s possible in this life—what other choices we really want to make . . . before the sun sets.
Note: You may also enjoy our related story called “The Shady Side.”