On November 10, 2022 I was out in Gardiner’s Bay sailing. At 4:20 the sun was almost completely gone tucked behind Shelter Island. The ride back to my slip in Three-Mile-Harbor was my last one for the 2022 sailing season. As I passed the marinas it was sad to see it was down to the last boats to be hauled time. With the harbor empty I thought back to the July fireworks in the harbor and the thousands of boats anchored everywhere. Just a month ago the harbor still had 40 boats on floating moorings.
Back in June I would be coming from sailing in Gardiner’s post sunset at 9:30 pm! Last week the boat was tied up, it was dark and I was in my car before 5 PM. It all seems so strange but that’s what it’s like on the short days of daylight savings in the winter in the northeast. In the middle of the summer when I come in post sunset and tie up and put things away, by it’s too late to get to a restaurant and get service. Now I wait to be the old early bird special guy. Of course, only one-third of the restaurants are even open.
I recall the weirdness of walking home pre-5PM from many after school activities in the dark. Car lights were always blinding as I walked with friends. Remember walking home from school? We’d start with a group and peel off as we arrived at the road we lived on. Since I lived very far from the school, the last few blocks it was me alone in the dark.
Juxtapose that to the magic of a powerful late evening sunset. Folks on the east end flock to those bay or ocean waterfront establishments to watch the slow magic of the sunlight fading away. When at a resort with no need to drive afterwards, this process is usually augmented by a few beverages of choice.
Honeymooning in late April 2012, my wife and I experienced magical sunset evenings in Paris. The remnants of the sunset would still be in the sky past 10 pm! Our hotel was but a short walk from the Tuileries Gardens. Yet we always timed it to watch the sunset on a romantic historical bridge over the river Seine.
Even more amazing are the June sunsets across Manitoba and Saskatchewan Canada. I once drove for three days on the “Trans-Canadian Highway.” High school buddy Tom Romero and I drove through British Columbia, to cross Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Every night the huge setting sun hung in the sky and the rearview mirror until 11 PM!
It’s just November and I already miss the beautiful summer sunsets of the east end. Who hasn’t had to pull over and stare at an amazing sunset? I still recall one evening sailing in after a late sunset as the sky put on the unforgettable show. Then the clouds turned pink to sherbet red as the blue sky turned turquoise colored, then slowly the combinations of all these colors flowed like rivers of colored clouds in the sky blanketing Gardiner’s Bay.
On the hottest of summer nights I might take my sails down anchor and swim as the sunset put on a show. Toweling off on the deck as the summer sunset brings a cool soothing breeze is always a moment to savor. Heading into harbor to go home is always a triumphant feeling.
Then there is December and those shortest days of the year culminating on Dec. 22. Being born on December 19th most likely adds to my sensitivity to early dark evenings. Every birthday I have ever had has been on the third shortest day of sunlight in the year. In the next six months both my wife and I will turn 70. Just this once we have decided to throw a party to celebrate this milestone birthday outdoors in July around sunset time!