02 June 2007

Green flash at sunrise

The green flash!
Originally uploaded by dgans
We've been home from Kaua'i for a week now, and the feel of the island is still very much with us. Jer and I have actually been fantasizing about allowing ourselves to be sucked into one of those timeshare pitches and, this time, whipping out the Visa card and saying "yes."

I haven't mentioned one of the highlights of the trip. After living on the coast, where looking for the green flash at sunset is a routine cocktail-hour pastime, we've grown pretty blasé about the phenomenon. We and our friends saw several, this trip, from the beach right in front of our cottages.

On Kaua'i, we've developed a ritual of greeting the sunrise, too. Jer and I do our yoga sun salutations then toddle out, coffee in hand, to join whichever members of our group have also made it to the beach. The same optical and atmospheric conditions that contribute to a green flash in the evening exist in the morning as well. But it's seldom seen at daybreak because far fewer people are out of bed that early. If they are, they're usually getting ready for work; they don't have time to watch the sun come up. Makes perfect sense when you think about it.

Well, you know what's coming. Last Thursday morning, Jer and I just happened to be looking at the horizon the moment the sun popped out, and there it was -- a green flash! A sunrise green flash is much more of a surprise. You have to be ready. You have no inkling that the sun is about to appear at that particular instant. You're not waiting, waiting, waiting, as you are at the other end of the day, for that big ol' glowing ball to disappear, looking to see whether it flattens out into an omega shape (a positive sign) on the way down, and knowing that, at the moment it winks out, it either will or won't be a green flash evening. A sunrise green flash gives you no cues, no time to prepare. In a way it's a purer visual experience, because there's no after-image to confuse you. You haven't been staring at the sun, off and on, for half an hour, waiting for it to do its thing.

There's another, more subtle, difference also. After a sunset green flash, you go "ahhh," watch the sky change color for a while, and tacitly bid farewell to the day. But a sunrise flash turns into the rising sun. Your day is just beginning, and what can possibly top what you've just seen?

Well, how about another green flash? That same evening, we attended Doug and Sandy McMaster's "sunset serenade, " a low-key hour or so of slack-key guitar and uke, on the shore of Hanalei Bay. There, our pal David Gans got an excellent shot, shown here, of our second green flash of the day. Try and top that, Sea Ranch!

Yesterday, Jer and I wrestled my bike down from high on the garage wall, where we'd stowed it when we first moved in. It's been so long that we actually forgot whose bike was whose. Jerry's is the purple one; we took it down first by mistake. Mine is green. I remember feeling, back when my business, Aubergine Information Services, was a happening thing and I totally identified with the color purple, that the purple bike should really be mine. Over the years, however, I've become very fond of green. It was an unexpected little gift to rediscover that my bike is the green one; hooray!

So we re-inflated the tires, lubed it in the obvious places, and brushed off 2+ years worth of dust. Today I rode it up to Woodstock for a three-hour workshop on basic bike maintenance offered through an awesome city program called Women on Bikes. It was empowering, although I learned enough to pray that I never have to fix a rear-tire flat.

I don't normally name my vehicles but I'm moved, for some reason, to christen my bike. She's now The Green Flash. It's nice to think about carrying a little bit of Hawai'i with me every time I ride.

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