I’m always talking about how beautiful sunsets are here in the off-season and this weekend, I’ve had the chance to appreciate a pair of them.
We’ve had a nice break in the weather with the weekend’s arrival. Saturday saw the thermometor swell into the thirties and low forties, with some sunshine to help shrink the snow cover in the yard and everywhere.
Today, we tickled the underside of 52 degrees and it was bright and golden sunshine we enjoyed. It was a day to thrust open the windows and let some fresh air blow through the apartment.
Of course it will be a while before warm temperatures can have too much impact on all the cakes of tidal ice which have built up along the bayshores during our recent cold snap.
Last night, my sunset walking found me at the shore at the end of nearby Dyer Prince Road, looking out at this rock you’ve seen in photos before.
There was sad news from that part of the shoreline on Thursday, when it was discovered that a young finback whale that became caught in the tidal ice and beached near the high tide line. The poor creature expired shortly after being discovered and local wildlife officials plan to remove the carcass for necropsy and study once the shore ice has thawed a little to allow removal.
Although it happens with some frequency, I’d never yet seen a beached whale since living here on the Cape and so I went to check out this beautiful creature close up. To some extent, it was in my mind that I was going to pay my respects, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that I was so moved by the sight of this incredible animal laying there, so quiet and still, it’s great gentle eye closed.
I shouldn’t be sad, I know. It’s all nature, just part of the Circle of Life and in some ways, no different than any empty crab leg or seashell I find on the beach any other time of year. But these guys are just so, well, they are…different. I made myself a promise to get out on a whale watch boat as soon as I can this spring, to see one of these magnificent guys out there in the ocean, alive and splashing as they are meant to be seen.
Additional indignity has been done to the poor thing by some local souvenir seekers who tried to remove the whale’s tale. They were unsuccessful in their attempt and it hangs by a bit of sinew. Local authorities are hoping to track down the perpetrators, since a hefty fine applies for disturbing marine mammals, living or dead.
I hadn’t planned to be free for sunset this evening, but when my plans for the evening fell through, it seemed a perfectly logical adaptation. It had been such a lovely day, so nice and warm (warmish, really, but it’s all a matter of degrees lately) that going to be the beach for sunset was a bit of a no-brainer.
I’m glad I didn’t go unprepared, though. An extra layer or two, a hat and scarf, these things were all very important. The temperature had already slipped back into the lower forties as the sun sank toward the horizon, and between the prevailing breeze off the bay and the moisture in the air from the incoming tide, there was a chill effect of what seemed to be several million degrees.
But that bright golden orb and it’s spectacular dance over the distant horizon certainly make you feel a little warmer. But it’s all just a pretty illusion.
It’s no secret at this point that some of my favorite sunsets have been enjoyed from First Encounter Beach in Eastham, so that’s where I headed tonight. Rather than spend too much time right on the shoreline, I opted to shelter behind the dunes a little, exploring Bee’s Creek, which is the waterway through the center of the marsh behind First Encounter’s dunes.
There were some shorebirds floating and drifting and feeding in the waters far away from me, but I didn’t attempt to bother them for good photos this evening. There was a celestial show underway I was quite enjoying as I tried to stay warm.
I believe it is tomorrow when there’ll be a lunar eclipse just prior to sunset, though I believe it is only the west coast of this country and some other areas which will be in a position to appreciate the spectacle. Tonight you could see how easily things are falling into position for this sort of thing, as the full moon rose in the eastern sky, as if it were on a teeter-totter with the sun.
For a while, the moon disappeared behind the bank of clouds which had appeared to be breaking up earlier. I was completely mesmerized by the warm and brilliant show of the orange sun, but also wondered for a moment or two if the full moon I’d seen hadn’t simply been a bit of retina burn ghost image after looking at the sun.
But then, the sun seemed to give off an extra burst of light just as it slipped over the horizon, and the playful and inconstant moon slipped up from behind the cloud where she’d been hiding from the sun’s bright rays, beginning in earnest her climb through the darkening sky.
From beyond the horizon, the sun sends off a last little fountain of red light, before leaving us to another cold winter’s night.