By Ava Casab (‘23)
Sunset on Lake Michigan, October 6, 2020. Image courtesy of Ron Baker.
It’s late July, the heat of the day fading away slowly but surely as the sun sets over the water, painting the sky and lake in vibrant shades of red, orange, and purple. Slowly sinking its way down the horizon, it soon disappears from view under the soft, rolling waves. The cheers of people crowded around the water’s edge have become almost synonymous with the sunset. Being here almost every day, I’ve come to expect the shouts of overexcited tourists in the summer months. The sky remains light for just a bit longer- soon, it will become enveloped in the dark shades of navy blue and black.
Sunsets, I think, are prettiest during the summer, because the cool embrace of night is always a welcome event after a scorching day. Beachgoers come for the day and stay to watch the sky light up in bright warmth. It’s routine at this point- I would know, considering the number of days I’ve spent watching this beach during the sunset easily exceeds sixty-seven years.
A few crickets can be heard in the reeds, chirping furiously as night falls faster and faster, leaving no time for light to say goodbye, chasing it away as dark conquers the sky. Their chirps are repetitive and expected, a steady beat for the sounds that surround them. The waves crashing against the shore are the melody, a shimmer of magic within the song of nighttime. The conversation surrounding the music of nature is the appreciation for the song it plays. People whisper amongst themselves about the grandiosity of a sunset on the beach and how the time spent watching the sun sink under the skyline has suddenly inspired them to do great things. I’ve heard it all. The ones who do return do so in much the same manner they arrived, never having given their fantasies of fame or glory so much as a second thought after their drive home the night they claimed the sky implanted ideas of illustriousness into their minds.
As if on cue, a soft breeze cuts its way through the crowds of onlookers, shivers emerging from their bones. There are less of them now, most having gone home to sleep. Still, some remain, waiting for the pitch black of night to finally find its way there. The chatter has died down, a few murmurs still breaking the air. It never is truly silent anywhere; the wind always has something to say. Today it gently pushes the people into their cars, back to their warm houses and cozy beds. I’ll soon follow, but not quite yet.
The sun will set again tomorrow, and everything will repeat itself. It is a cycle, moving through the seasons with little regard for the weather. If it rises, it will set. That is how the world works, a system unchallenged for centuries. I have sat here every night I can remember for the better part of my life, and even with the emerging silhouettes of lakeside mansions and the new sounds of traffic on the road through the tiny town I’ve lived in since I was small, there is still an overwhelming feeling of peace during the sunset. The sun has been here longer than I and will remain after my soul leaves for the heavens above.
Nothing lasts forever; I know this. Yet on nights like these, I can’t help but wonder what forever really means to a mortal like me.