I stopped in my tracks out in the farmyard to watch the eastern horizon starting to blush.
Standing in that spot or thereabouts is something I’ve done often since we’ve lived out on this ridge, me facing the east to watch such blush of pink appearing with sunrises — the reds and oranges and goldenrod yellows soon following.
But that was a moment of the sun’s rising. Instead, it was setting.
The matter caused me to do a double-take of sorts, momentarily worrying that the onset of another birthday brought confusion about which direction I was facing. I assured myself that I was, indeed, looking to the east.
What then, was causing this colorful eastern sky?
A quick consideration crossed my mind that perhaps the large greenhouse operation over by Northfield to the southeast already was casting its purple light-reflection off the light clouds streaking that part of the sky. But the eerie colored light pollution we’ve come to know during the past few months – a phenomenon to which we’ve become somewhat accustomed and which startles the unknowing – wasn’t the cause.
Something from behind told me to turn around, where I realized the cause.
The sun settling into its evening resting place along the western horizon was putting on a light show that rivaled any I’d seen at any point in the world I’ve gotten to know.
Such sunsets have occasioned us here in the past, me committed to never take for granted such art. But seldom have even the most spectacular sunsets splashed the entire sky with all combinations in the color-wheels; all the paint-cans’ covers jettisoned as the hardware stores’ mixers were quaking in their greatest violence.
Glances back and forth, west to east and east to west, I turn to watch the morning’s horizon and turn to watch the evening’s horizon.
What souls have stood on that spot over the years, getting the same show? This soil has told me that those here before me definitely had stopped to see similar spectacles, no matter how busy the day and no matter whether it was time for the cows to be milked.
That hasn’t been the case in all places I’ve been over the years, but it seems to be something that’s a habit in these parts — most folks I know around here being the sorts to have stopped and watched as I watched.
As yet another northern Driftless Area art exhibit drew to a close, I went into our old farmhouse and anticipated the many stories and images I’d be hearing, reading and seeing in the exhibit’s critique. There likely only would be positive critiques, I suspected, those attesting otherwise having little understanding of our fortune for having an artist so renowned show her best work in our humble gallery.
Those critiques didn’t offer any disappointment, them being plentiful and positive.
In other venues, they’d include audiences in standing ovations uproariously applauding with yells of “Brava!” Here though, the ovations were in the form of friends’ texts and calls to ask whether we’d seen the exhibit; they were in social media postings in words and photographs.
We’d seen similar shows but didn’t know whether they’d ever be matched and certainly didn’t think they’d ever be topped as they were tonight, we so many agreed.
This has to be one of the most incredible pieces of countryside to live upon, we so many contended.
“How could this ever be topped?” we so many asked.
“This season has painted our senses with sunrises and sunsets,” we so many spoke the obvious.
We gave thanks for the show, we so many the thankful.
Dusk closed the gallery, and we looked away as darkness drew its curtain over the show; bright gallery lights were replaced with twinkling stars’ security lights.
Like the gallery’s security guard, I made one last visit out into the darkened venue. And there through a wispy cloud’s haze shined that night’s moon, it in a half-winked bedroom-eye dreaminess.
It’s always wonderful to see the artist installing her next show.
Brava, dear artist of this soil. Brava.
— Scott Schultz