Inside the glow

Inside the glow

It’s a Tuesday evening about eight o’clock, the July 4 weekend just over, the visitors to Birch Lake gone home. I’m out in the boat watching a couple of slip bobbers as the sun slowly dips through the horizon’s haze toward the treetops. Mine is the only boat on the lake. There are no campfires on shore, no fireworks, no music playing, just me and the water, a breeze stirring up the merest ripples. The sun touches the treeline, and the walleyes keep the appointment, the feeding window open in the slowly fading light. A bobber goes down; I reel in a feisty marble-eyes, not big enough to keep. I slip him back into the water, bait up with another leech, cast out again. The other bobber dips below the surface.

So it goes for several minutes, fish biting with regularity. And then I notice the sky. The sun, now out of sight, has lit the haze a brilliant orange-red. The reflection spreads across the water; I can cast a bobber into it. Then I realize I’m not just watching this sunset – I’m inside it. The water glows. The orange-red light seems to tint even the air around me, the color three-dimensional. The skin of my hand, the white boat seat and tan floor, the bobber floating in the reflection, pick up the sheen. I can’t help but set the fishing aside and look on in awe.

I’ve brought my smart phone – if anything deserves a picture, this does. I aim at the northwest horizon and compose to the rule of thirds, careful to catch the full extent of the color in the sky and the even brighter hue of the reflection, contrasting the dark of the treeline. So brilliant is this sunset that even the phone’s rudimentary camera does it reasonable justice. I send the image to my family and several friends, then get back to fishing, not gazing at the sunset, merely basking in it.

Soon the walleyes shut down and the western haze fades to gray smoke. I pull up the anchor and motor slowly toward the pier, the sky still holding a bit of rosy tint. I tie up the boat, slip the covers on the seats, gather the fishing gear and step onto the dock. Although the spectacle is over, I sit a while on the bench, looking west.