The sunset was mighty fine a few nights ago. We were sitting at the dining room table and the room began to glow in yellows and golds and that is always a very good sign. My back faces the glass doors that open out to an oft-imagined but non-extant deck. I turned and looked out to the horizon on my right. The sun was gone and the show was not there this time. I bent my knees a bit and looked up. Row after vertical row of rolling high cirrocumulus clouds striped the sky like pickets from the dark western horizon to nearly the eastern. Each one glowed in rich reds and oranges and each leading edge was tipped in gold leaf, all behind the black outline of the leafless maples.
The sky was without hesitation "stripey," as Nick put it.
It was a pretty cool sunset.
The very next morning, the very same table, the very same room - this time glowing in salmons and pinks. I turn again. I look left and again there is no sun - yet, this time. Fast clouds, grey, but really purple, race from south to north, whipping the dry leaves everywhere and bending the tall cedars at the edge of my neighbor's yard. Looking up I realize that higher clouds can be seen between the fast moving purple-gray lower ones and they are the source of the color and light. The dance moves quickly as the ominous stratus clouds reveal and conceal and frame and obscure the rich pink and red of the higher altocumulus above.
"That contrast is awesome, Dad," Zack says, suddenly next to me, summing it up nicely.
It was a pretty cool sunrise.
Now, I've explained the basic optics and such - angle of incidence and all that. We've discussed and wondered and marveled at the intrinsic and extrinsic beauty of sunsets and sunrises. The boys have drawn them in crayons and markers, I've mentioned both numerous times here. Just, well, we've considered them. I've considered them longer.
Zack and I sit back down at the table, back to coffee and Poptarts, routine and comfort. Nick, who'd been watching from his chair, sits with a spoonful of Cheerios poised for slurping and says:
"Which do you think's best, Dad, a sunrise or a sunset?"
"I've never considered it before, Nick." I pause, offput, "That's a damn good question"
Zack returns with, "That's a tough question."
I stand up to get another cup of coffee as they continue to discuss - reverently, I might add - the topic at hand. I stare out the window as the fast wind blows and the sky darkens with more and more low clouds.
"I got a pet robot. His name is Muffin."