On Sunsets and the Importance of Hanging Around

I have a thing about dusk, my favorite time of day, and sunsets. I think sunsets are nature’s most exquisite art. They never fail to put me in a relaxed state of awe. They are never the same, even second by second during the same sunset. The clouds, the color, the intensity…they keep shifting.

It’s weird how things happen. Moment by moment, we decide what to do, making our best guesses, using our intuition (or not), or maybe we are just caught up in events. We do the things we do and there is no way to tell what would or would not have happened if we had made different choices. At any given time, it seems so easy to do any number of things as the next thing. But there can be only one thing.  And that is the thing. Forever.

A couple weeks ago I was at the Huntington Beach pier with my wife. It was late, almost 7:00 pm. A rolling cloud layer had been overhead most of the day, and at sunset the sun was peeking around the far edges of this smothering gray mass of clouds.


The sunset did not seem promising. The clouds were winning. In fact, it looked like a bust. We were both starved, just about to drop, and agreed it was time to go and get food.

And then we didn’t move for ten minutes. Maybe the gyration of ocean waves smacking against the pier’s pillars had lulled us. Maybe we were just lazy.

“Let’s go!” we both said, holding our stomachs. We took ten steps and then found our elbows on the railing again. The sun was about to drop into a window. Over the next fifteen minutes it worked itself into this slot. Bright orange fire poured through, like a flashlight through a window. As it sank lower, the clouds over our heads became under lit and infused with an amazing purple. The pier was a lit studio.

We took another ten steps and stopped. The purple turned into blue, then green, as we half-heartedly reaffirmed we had to do dinner. We lingered around some fisherman holding rods. Finally the sky became brighter, a turn up on the dimmer switch, as everything was painted an otherworldly neon pink. It was one of the most sublime and satisfying sunsets I have seen.


Androids and iPhones were lifted into the air and aimed with extended arms along the pier. All people who had to stop and look.  Suddenly, the sunset was heavily trending in photos and videos.

We were so stunned we couldn’t talk. Except to say: “I’m so glad we stayed.”

“You have to see this!” a man in an Angels t-shirt was heard to say on his smart phone, and then laughing, “Well, then get here somehow.”


By robbskidmore

Robb Skidmore writes upmarket literary fiction. He is the author of “The Pursuit of Cool”, a critically acclaimed coming-of-age novel about love, music, and the 80s, and the novella “The Surfer.” His short stories have appeared in many publications.

5 replies on “On Sunsets and the Importance of Hanging Around”

Yeah, all the mysteries of the day are collected in the clouds at sunset. Always brilliant, always new, always making us wish to read tomorrow’s pages. Arizona sunsets are spectacular and I never miss them. Worth hanging around for .


A wonderful description! The photos are breathtaking. I would love to have the talent to paint the colors reflected in the water. What a special moment for you and your wife to share.


Linda Joyce

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