Column, Living the Dream

Sunrise or sunset

Sunset on Kent Pond

It’s an age-old quandary

by Merisa Sherman

It’s an age-old personal and preferential question on which I have been spending time this week in deep thought. Maybe I even meditated a little on this topic, just to see if anything would pop into my brain while it was completely at rest. Nothing happened, but it’s still one of my favorite existential subjective thoughts. So indeed, which do I enjoy more: sunrises or sunsets?

I believe the sunset is easier, which usually decreases the spectacularity of the moment. Perhaps you’ve even seen the sunsets from the top of Killington Peak in late December, standing shoulder to shoulder with those up on Christmas holiday, who are unexpectedly surprised at the greatness. All the phones come out of pockets as people unload the gondola absolutely captivated. Something we see every night can be so unique that we feel compelled to stop and stare.

The beauty of a sunset is about noticing. So many times we just keep driving through as the colors change into their pinks and purples and allowing the sunset to become merely background beauty rather than some of the most glorious moments of the woke day. We miss the sunset because we are too busy doing something else: maybe it’s making dinner, or eating inside with your family instead of just taking a few moments to sit on the front porch letting the colors wash over you. A sunset is too easy, too available, too everyday to make celebrating its uniqueness a thing. But if you choose to sit, and watch as the sun slowly drops behind the mountain, be careful because Mother Nature can capture your whole soul.

As for sunrises? Now there is a commitment, especially for the second shifter. To be up for sunrise is to break out of a deep slumber at the least opportune time, to be surrounded by darkness with only a dream of catching the blazing red sun rise up over the mountain range. I’ve paddled through sunrises from the waters of Kent Pond and hiked up to see the sun rise over Superstar from the top of Ramshead. Not only do sunrises involve fumbling around half asleep in the darkness but they are almost always cold. An 80-degree day can have a sunrise temp of 57… so imagine the temperature at the top of a mountain on what will be a 10 degree day…

But sunrises have mist, which is one of the neatest things I’ve ever seen. As the sun rises, with its oranges and reds, the entire Killington Valley fills with mist that you can either watch from within or above — either way it’s simply magical.

From the mountaintop, the valley looks like an ocean. From the waterline, the fog is so thick and the light so odd it looks like you’re in a sepia photo. As the time passes, you watch the fog lift off the water like glued cotton balls being pulled apart and lifted. And as your boat slices through the water and fog, you know that you are in nature, not just an observer.

Imagine a pro and con sheet of these two great moments in time — which would be your favorite? Getting up in the middle of the night to freeze to death waiting for the warming sun to expose itself or making the conscious decision to sit with your feet warming by a bonfire, watching the sun take it’s last few breaths above the mountain?

Perhaps it’s wrong of me to compare the two, but I like comparing them to each other more than comparing sunrises to sunrises. Was this sunset better than last night? Was it worth getting up for this sunrise? Those are questions that I don’t ever want to answer, because each one is a study of uniqueness and I want to celebrate that moment on it’s own merits.

Every sunrise is worth it. Every sunset is magical.

If only we take the time to see them.

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