Sunsets are for contemplation.
Our star’s daily descent not only organizes life from day to night, it reorganizes the mind from action to reflection.
I was reflecting on the future of the impoundment at Pleasant Creek State Recreation Area. The “lake” created in conjunction with the Duane Arnold Energy Facility was fully depreciated and the state set out to refurbish it several years ago.
The project lowered the water level to work on the shoreline, add fish habitat and generally put some life back into a body of water that could be quite stingy to anglers. While low for years, lots of vegetation grew in the exposed areas. Now flooded, one should expect a high growth rate of fish in the next several seasons until the flooded willows all decay; the “new lake effect” as they say.
I wasn’t there to fish as much as to see it finally full. The heavy snowpack and wet spring overcame the small watershed.
I took a boy under the pretense of fishing to at least get someone to go along. My plan worked. He wet a line and I supervised. The night was mild and the bugs were few. He caught green sunfish.
I surveyed the shoreline. To the east-northeast vern clouds hung like gray drapery. Somewhere there would be a rainbow. In the northeast, the sun played hide-n-seek as it retired. It was a spectacle because the background was a brilliant orange.
Such a beautiful scene begged for staring. The low angle of the sun made it possible. The smoke in the atmosphere made it beguiling.
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Millions of acres were on fire in northwest Canada. A conflagration of such magnitude that the smoke could drift to our corner of the prairie and warm our spirits with little sense of guilt about the violence from which it was born.
Edvard Munch’s masterpiece, “The Scream,” has a vivid sunset. Some art historians suggest volcanic activity colored the sky with ash and smoke informing his palate. The Krakatoa eruption in the then Dutch West Indies took lives proximally but perhaps inspired art distally.
Thankfully the Canadian fires have not turned murderous so I could enjoy the painted sunset without too much penitence.
This little valley was taken from terrestrial beings and then given over to the waters for recreators and fish. We don’t think about that often but maybe we should?
One last green sunfish and I called for a halt to fishing. The boy tarried, I ground my teeth. On the drive home we saw a rainbow. Everything will be OK.
Looking up, looking ahead, and keeping my pencil sharp.
l John Lawrence Hanson, Ed.D., of Marion teaches U.S. history with an emphasis on environmental issues at Linn-Mar High School and sits on the Linn County Conservation Board.