Sasha, born a true desert dog, has established herself as a queen of the highest point on our property. That is her perch of choice from which she presides over our territory. Sasha’s perch is also where I watch the sunsets. I put a bench on the back patio, a bench on the front patio, but no place beats chasing orange flares across the sky like the highest point on the lot. I can see over the shed, over the roofline, over the fence. This is critical, because the Western and Southern mountain ranges catch the last rays of the sun very differently.
In the morning, the mountain directly to the west of me, our windbreak, turns orange like a persimmon. But before sunset officially kicks off, the sun issues a warning shot against the South range, the limit of Joshua Tree National Park, in a bright orange streak. It lasts a moment, and it happens in spite of the bright light of day.
Just when the flash disappears, a dip between two Western mountains turns gold. Is the sun setting now? Does sunset happen earlier if mountains block the horizon? Will the color make it over San Gorgonio? The sky isn’t pink quite yet, so maybe tomorrow will be stormy.
This is when doubt creeps in. Will we have a gentle pink fade through violet to blue over the West? Are there enough clouds to the South for the East to turn pink? Nothing is happening quite yet.
It is the wispy clouds to the Southwest that first blend to a blush. The doubt remains - isn’t the West side of the sky supposed to be the most colorful? Maybe we’ll settle for this.
Then suddenly, fireworks. From the Southwest, refracting magically from the invisible ocean sun-sinking, first to the opposite ends of the Eastern earth. Then, pink, magenta, orange, fire, gold, juxtaposed one-by-one on a perfect periwinkle, above the golden sinking of the sun over a masked sea.
On a windy day, this display tracks with cotton-candy cloud billows racing toward Arizona’s monsoon thunderheads, as if the pink clouds morph to orange morph to gold, shape shifting and carrying the colors of the sun with them like Icarus in flight.
I dance around the yard to catch it all as close as possible. I circle once, circle twice, is this a pirouette? To the West fence for the first signs of pigment migration, to the East fence to confirm if it really is going 360 tonight, then, awestruck on Sasha’s perch, twirling. The Western clouds are pink, it must be over. Now they’re orange, and they beautifully complement the blue. I’ll take a picture today and paint it tomorrow. Then, fire, like an after image of the orange on blue seared into my retina. I sigh, it’s over. But then it turns gold, a true yellow gold like the Oxus Treasure. Burning hot and bright then all at once over.
Purples, indigos, blues, fading to black. And a calm, giddy smile on my face, from Sasha’s perch. She likes watching sunsets, too.