The moon was rising rapidly over the hills just east of town: a full, translucent moon, tinged the color of peach sherbet. She could still make it if she hurried.
She sped up the steep hill toward the park, taking care not to ram into any oncoming cars on this aged, labyrinthine incline. She imagined this might have been an ancient Greek path, or a winding Italian road, not a private drive in a small American beach town.
Peeks of the forthcoming sunset dappled across her eyes, blinding her as she turned a corner. No matter, she knew the way. How many times had she gone up this hill? She had been distracted tonight and had almost missed the sunset—a mistake she would have regretted—considering the rarity of such a clear day coupled with of a full moon rise.
At the top, she had no problem parking. This place was a secret that only photographers and hikers relished. The tourists were busy taking pictures down below, on the pier or the beach. But the few people atop Grant Park hill knew better. She hiked up the hill just a bit, to her favorite vantage point. She wanted to make sure she could see both the moon and the sun in her peripherals.
The sun was gliding delicately into the ocean, deepening the colors of the horizon with each second that passed. It was glorious. Each of the five Channel Islands seemed to hover just over the water, glazed in a majestic deep lavender. There were a few sleek clouds—probably jet contrails—drifting above the islands, refracting all different colors in their delicate streaks of condensation.
Looking across the valley, through speckled browns and greens—tiny houses and tiny lawns—the sky seemed to suspend the moon as if it were being risen by an invisible string; a slow, methodical, even-tempered moon, smiling over the sleepy beach town that it protected by night.
By now the sun had slipped below the definitive line of the Pacific Ocean, but the show was far from over. Once the sun went down, the colors seemed to deepen across the horizon. Where there had been a faint blue sky there was now a deep purple cast, where slight, bright specs of outer space began to poke through the blanket of atmosphere known as night.
The moon kept on its trajectory over the North Eastern side of the city, sleepily floating up, up; it was ascending to its throne above, watching over the people as they dreamed away their long winter’s night. The days would be getting longer now, promising more light and warmth and sustenance.
She took a deep, methodical breath as she waited until the moon was no longer a giant orb on the horizon and was firmly seated in the sky above.
What promises this night had made. What dreams had been put to sleep to linger over, to wake up to. It was sunsets like these that reminded one of the precious gift of life in a world full of chaos and pain.
She would remember this night always: a perfect mid winter equinox.