My favorite place to watch the sun disappear is from a hilltop in Sharpsburg, Georgia. Since my family moved there when I was ten, that hill has been an emblem of many things. In high school, our cross-country team sprinted repeats up its side, aptly dubbing it "the Matterhorn." As the name implies, it's tall, and an open field on its western edge invites ample view of the day's final lapse of light.
This evening, I set out for the summit. Watery hues of a late winter sky guided me through the woods, over a rickety wooden bridge crossing Shoal Creek. The night was cool and quiet, almost windless. When I reached the top, I rested in the grass, in tune to an array of sylphid sensations--the subtle patter of insect feet across my legs, the prickly grass beneath me, the subdued hum of airplanes.
I spent a great deal of my childhood in and around these woods. They are as familiar to me as my own hands. Yet tonight, in the calmness of the day's end, with the knowledge that all of this will soon be very far away, I watched the sun set again from an old hill and felt something new. For me, the beauty of the experience lies in the ability to experience it a million different ways, even from the same spot. I will spend a great deal of time in the next year searching for thoughts in the sky, trying to get ever closer to the life I see there, and exploring why it holds any at all. A nebulous pursuit? Certainly. It's the nature of the sky. The wonder that I assign to this experience is something shared by other cloud enthusiasts in different places that I hope to explore.
When I reached the bottom of the hill, I turned to look at a little tree that stands apart from the forest on the summit and noticed this tiny cloud creeping into view. Part of the wonder, I think, originates in having new eyes, in seeing an old place with new a perspective.