Day’s End

By Molly Williams

I have watched probably 200 sunsets in PV. Although the elements are essentially the same each time, it is like watching the waves – each one is unique. I have watched a lovely day turn into a dud of a sunset, and seen dull and overcast become a spreading riot of color. Tonight’s was an unexpected treat. After having hidden itself for most of the afternoon, the sun popped out for the final descent, and became a giant ball of haze spilling into the gray ocean. The spray from breaking surf broke the beams into ephemeral spectrums of purple to orange; sparkles skittered over the waves retreating back along the velvet sand.
We on the balcony and the congregation of sunset disciples lined up on the beach below waited hopefully for the end, and maybe the flash. People talk about the green flash in a hesitant way, like having admitted to seeing the Loch Ness Monster – it is really cool IF you saw it IF it exists – but if it really can’t happen then you don’t want to look like an idiot and say you saw it.
The whales were putting on a show at sunset tonight too. Like luggage-less snowbirds, they traipse to PV when the cold weather sets in up north, but they are burdened by impending parenthood. Each year these giants return to PV to give birth and coddle their young in a predator-free playpen before heading to the Alaskan feeding grounds. The dolphins somehow clear the bay of sharks so the whales are happy, and together with the giant turtles and rays, make just watching the water a constant game of “I spy.”
The mother with her young was having a ball flipping and spouting. I could almost hear the little one going “watch me mommy, watch me!” Heaven knows I’ve heard that enough times to recognize a child at play under mommy’s proud gaze. That there was an audience of dozens thrilled on shore was of no matter – this little guy was doing somersaults all for him and mom.
The whales rarely play in peace, though. Too many excursions, sailboats, snorkel tours, out in those waters, and they all race to the sightings. I wouldn’t wonder if sometime we see a small pleasure craft go airborne from the flip of the giant and iconic tail of one of these solitary beasts.
That will teach humans to get too close to nature. For me the balcony is close enough. I am a mom, and know this – parenting is best done without an audience.
Tomorrow we will gather again at the appointed time. These are the bookends for our days here – the pounding of jogging feet on the malecon accented by the come-hither whistle of the muffin man in the mornings, and then the slanting of the sun into the condo which drags us from the afternoon nap to the balcony to admire its show. Maybe the flash will come, but most likely we will continue to delude ourselves that we saw it. Definitely our eyes will sting with the resonance of the vanished sun, imposing purply crescent images wherever we look for the next few minutes. It will stay in my memory for much longer than that.