Describing a Sunset
Describing a sunset can be relatively easy. All you have to do is photocopy this blog! Seriously, though, some thought should go into planning an essay like this. You should have your colours pre-planned and make a quick list of the images you are going to describe. Include all five senses where possible and focus in on some ‘stream-of-thought’ also. What are your feelings towards the beauty you see? Does it make you think of life and its purpose a bit more? Does the overarching immensity of sky make you feel small and insignificant? These are just some tips but read on to germinate some more ideas. The techniques used here can be accessed easily in my new book ‘Writing with Stardust’ on Amazon. There is also a spelling workbook of the same title. Just click on the book title at the end of the blog. In the meantime, enjoy the story……
Describing a Sunset
What is it about the beach that reaches in and feather touches the wilder parts of our soul? Is it the sounds, the smells, the colours or a combination of these? To begin with, let’s start with the sounds and see where it takes us.
There’s a soothing necromancy to the sounds of the sea that can’t be found anywhere else. I say necromancy because the night sounds can seem as sinister as a burglar to the unwary. Have you ever sat on a shingle beach with the sun setting and the salty lips of the waves kissing the sand roughly? Is it possible to recreate this sound? Open your ears and give it a try. Can you hear it?
The sea teems and hisses, scrapes the stones, lashes the beach and releases. It sizzes, chafes the pebbles, dashes the sand and retreats. It fizzes and seethes, spits out grit and slaps the beach with its salty lips. Finally it swishes, washes and polishes the shingle, then swirls and whirls as the tide switches. Its work done, it recedes, leaving a seaweed-slick shingle beach behind.
Of course, such a scene wouldn’t be complete without the smells of the beach wafting up your nostrils. A beach has such a medicinal smell, a coconut-and-citrus extravaganza of scents. But that is not what you can ferret out with your nose right now. Your stomach rumbles and growls as the aroma of flame-grilled meat drifts towards you. You can hear it sizzling on the griddle and the steak fat dribbling and hissing as it spills onto the grill. There are burgers being flash-fried also and lord oh lord, is that mushroom and onion moisture you can hear fizzling on hot charcoal? All the splattering juices and squirting blood being seared is enough to make any man’s legs wobble. To finish it off, your lips smack with the anticipation of salty meat as barbeque sauces, chilli, vinegar and cayenne peppers are layered onto the steaming platters of food.
To take your mind off the torture of an empty stomach, you gaze at your surroundings. The sun is setting and there are only a few swallows left in the sky. They pirouette like will-o’-the-wisps on valium, their scimitar wings slashing the air as they go. The seagulls are still squawking and squabbling over scraps of food, their raucous cries loud and brash in the faltering light. Come to think of it, you are just beginning to notice something for the first time. It is your hallelujah moment, an epiphany so profound that you know it will never be bettered. You could sit on this rock for a thousand years more and nothing as insightful will hit you like this again.
Your epiphany is this: you are beginning to notice that someone is slowly turning up the volume of the beach sounds. The wave-music is louder, the haunting cry of a curlew above you is pressing into your head and the swell of the heaving sea is magnified to a murmur. The span of sea sky makes you feel like you are trapped in a dome of glass. Everything rings out with a crystal and piercing clarity and all the sounds are cut to sharpness. Is this caused by a drop in temperature, the stillness of the air or your senses becoming more attuned? It is none of these. It is because you are reflective and the immense majesty of sky, air and sea has made you recognise your own mortality. A moment like this may never come again and you are both enlightened and sadder for it.
It’s not all bad news, however. Your newly found spidey-senses make you aware that the dipping sun is ember-red and it licks and glitters channels of the sea red like a dragon’s tongue. The sand has been burnished into a long winding-sheet of copper and the horizon is threaded with a thin line of silver. As the sun bows down further, the slumbering heap of sea becomes a-glow like melted platinum. The last few lances of light are cast down in a holy line of laser fire and it is over. The night is here and the sky looks like a black, velvet ceiling sprinkled with dream dust.
As you sit and ponder your own mortality, you ask of yourself the eternal and timeless question all men of worth have asked throughout the ages: “What will I be having for breakfast?” You sigh and pine as the last, despairing puffs of burger fume are washed from the barbeque grills.
For much more of the above, please check out my book Writing with Stardust. This post is not in the book, but the techniques used to write these posts come from it.
*Liam O’ Flynn is now on LinkedIn.