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Updated: Feb 5, 2018

by David Michael Kirby

“Sunsets are loved because they vanish.” ~ Ray Bradbury

Most of the day following my Manchester sojourn was spent in work: editing my photos, writing, and researching what to explore next. Plus one unexpected nap. I was up early to meet my friend, MaryLynn, before she returned to New York. We met at Betsey’s Dot’s of Dover and had an incredible breakfast that concluded with Betsey joining us and telling tales about her family, and the people in the community she’s come to love like family. Our conversation served as a timely reminder how truly precious time is, that life can change in a moment.

Once MaryLynn and I said our farewells, I returned to the apartment to the aforementioned work. I felt tired (and full) so I lay down for a few minutes. Two and a half hours later I woke, discovering the constant sound of a river flowing below my window has quite the soporific effect. I made my first cup of coffee with the AeroPress I purchased the day before (AMAZING!) then got to work.

By the time I was free to head out, it was after five o’clock. I made myself more coffee and tried to figure out what to do with what little time remained of the day. Most days, since I’ve been here, I listen to my gut and -- so far -- I’ve been rewarded by that intuition. Today it told me not to miss tonight’s sunset, so I headed to the only place I knew would have a 360 degree view: the firetower atop Mount Olga at Molly Stark State Park down the road in Wilmington.

I arrived shortly after 6:30, the only car in the lot. I checked in with the ranger, paid my $4.00 day fee, and proceeded up the trail. The climb was moderately easy and quick. I reached the tower in about twenty minutes. I spent over ninety minutes there.

The view encompasses four states -- Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and New York. The one distraction in this vista is a cell phone tower right next to the fire tower. (Yes, I had great service.) Minute by minute, the light shifted, pouring into the valleys, highlighting the town of Wilmington or the ribbon of road below, eventually casting Mount Olga’s shadow far to the east. I took hundreds of pictures in the time I was there. Literally.

Three young women joined me half an hour before sunset, entering the clearing below via a different trail, opposite the one I took. Turns out they are local, having made this trek for the sunset a few times previously, only to be disappointed. They were caught in a surprise thunderstorm a few weeks before. Nobody was disappointed tonight, though.

What. A. Show. Pictures convey the story of my evening better than mere words ever could. Out of hundreds of shots, I selected twenty-one to represent my time at Mother Nature Theater’s limited concert -- one night only. And my ticket was only $4.00.

It was after 8:30 when I reluctantly departed, but the sun HAD set, and it gets dark quickly in the forest. I retraced the trail down the mountain, using the flashlight on my cell phone to guide my steps. I’ll confess, after staring at the western sky all that time it was difficult to see clearly -- blue blazes made the trek easier. I was at my car in twenty minutes and home in another fifteen. What a Vermontime that was! The afterglow of the experience is still with me as I type this.

The sunset may have vanished, but my memory has not.


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