My summer sunset obsession has not been by accident.
I don’t think I fully realized that until last Sunday night, when at the last minute, Chris asked me out on a date. I scrambled to find a babysitter for the kids and readily agreed – he seemed like he had a plan, and I do like a man with a plan.
We left an hour before sunset, he bought me a frosted coffee, and then began driving up and down the slightly precarious mountain roads surrounding Birmingham.
“We’re going to find the perfect sunset viewing spot. It’s all in the angle, the lining up with the sun and the city, and at a place that won’t chase us off.”
(Because the most known City-Sunset-Viewing road just posted a vast collection of signs declaring “no trespassing” and “private property” and “absolutely no parking.” Although my husband toyed with blaming me for the street’s overreaction, very few of my sunset photos have come from that road.)
We drove up one road that was nearly breaking in half – it was alongside the mountain that they cut through to create an interstate bypass many decades ago, and apparently it had flown under the radar of re-paving ever since.
We made it to the top and there was a house on either side – both with awkwardly padlocked gates.
Apparently, city views attract paranoid hermits.
We carefully picked our way back down that road, around a curve, and down another road. Although road number two had a great view, it also had zero curb and a sheer kudzu-covered drop-off, getting it notated as a road that was only meant for photos-on-the-go.
Chris crossed Southside and went to the other side of the Red Mountain Expressway. We began zig-zagging up and down the roads hanging off the side of the mountain as the sun got lower in the sky. We finally starting striking paydirt (in sunset currency), and he began insisting that I hop out of the car, take a test photo, then hop back in.
Stop one housed a great angle, but had an excess of shrubbery.
But it had just stopped raining, so the mist coming off of the city really added to its appeal.
“Is it perfect for tailgating the sunset?”
“Nope – too many bushes.”
“Okay – get back in the car.”
I jumped back in and he kept driving, following a well-mapped plan that he had created earlier.
Stop two had a fantastic peek-a-boo view, but not the spacious skylines we were looking for.
Stop three happened when Chris noticed a Sunset-View Duplex for sale and was asking about it. Its view was not bad at all, so I had to talk him back in the car and out of moving our family instantaneously.
After a few more unsuccessful attempts to find “The Perfect New View”, Chris asked, “Are you having fun?”
“Yes, but are you? I know you know that I like sunsets, but I want you to have fun on our date, too!”
“Of course I’m having fun! I’ve always loved city views – you know that. And anyway, I know how happy they make you, and how they cheer you up, so I love to do this.”
I quietly pondered this statement in my heart.
He was right – I had found great joy and comfort in sunsets this summer, and in chasing the view.
It’s been a very uncertain few months for me, as I shared Monday. I’ve had so little control over my own energy, well-being, and ability to function that the distraction and joy of taking photos of my beautiful city has been my coping mechanism – and I had no idea.
I was finishing up pondering this realization when Chris drove up to the most common sunset view – the newly forbidden one.
I didn’t dare get out, but snapped a test shot as we drove by. Not bad, but an unwelcoming sunset is not a happy sunset.
And so we drove to our happy place – our favorite road that had as of yet not forbidden our entry.
We walked through the blessedly open gates and up their moss-covered street,
Caught a glimpse of the view that was to come,
And knew that this was where we were supposed to be tailgating the sunset.
The city was aglow as the sun dipped down into the clouds,
And we were delighted to hear romantic jazz music wafting clearly up the hill – there was a concert in the park directly below us, and we had the best seats in the house.
I asked Chris if he knew that we would be serenaded on our sunset date. He should have seriously considered taking credit, but he said it was a surprise for him as well.
I took pictures of the sunset as it morphed and lowered,
He took pictures of me.
He also insisted on a double-selfie. And this time, I didn’t mind – for a date like this, he deserved a little cheesiness.
We stayed as the sun made it’s final descent,
and as the city lights became the backdrop for the jazz still climbing the hill to make its way to us.
And as a peace came over me, I realized that this sky I had been chasing actually did have something to say to me: If God can make his sunsets new and fantastic every day, then He can make me new every day as well.
And if He puts half the care into taking care of me as He does each night’s sunset, then I’m going to be okay, no matter what happens next.
Later, God led me to the perfect verses to confirm what He had been speaking to my heart.
So I will continue to sit high upon that rock and chase as many sunsets as I need to.