Above the lonesome valley by BenCoffman

My six-year-old son and I both agreed that this was a “top-10 sunset.” I know that a six-year-old’s opinion doesn’t usually hold much weight, but my son’s seen a few sunsets in his day. This one exploded for nearly 45 minutes, bathing us in various shades of orange-red light.

At home, he routinely interrupts me from staring at my computer monitor so that he can excitedly drag me to our west-facing window and point out some pink-purple clouds. “Our favorite sunset colors” is a topic of conversation that has regularly come up in the past few years. Last summer we spent nearly three weeks on the road, staying up late, waking up early, checking out over half a dozen national parks, and talking a lot about photography. This summer we didn’t make it out quite so much.

Every once in a great while I feel a tinge of envy when I see posts from young, single photographers who have the opportunity to run off at a moment’s notice. While they chase sunsets, I’m often chasing kids around a playground. While they breezily travel to far-flung locales on a whim, I’m intricately planning out how I can get away for a night.

And every once in a while I find myself in the right place for a take-your-breath-away, the-sky-is-on-fire sunset. Long ago I thought it would be a good idea to carry a camera to capture those moments so that others could appreciate them, later. But it’s also nice to have a small person at my side who stops poking at the dirt with his stick to yell, without any pretense, “this is incredible,” not because he’s been coached to do such a thing, or because he feels that the exclamation is expected of him, but because he’s thrilled to be there in the moment, seeing an incredible sunset. With me.

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