Thanks Tiffany at readerswritersconnect for the wonderful interview, guest post and book review.
the ordinariness of extraordinary beauty by d.e.l. connor
The kids are throwing snowballs at each other. It is Christmas Eve on my parent’s ranch in Montana. We are twenty-two miles from town, and many miles from another living soul. Dusk is fast approaching and the kids are cramming all the fun they can into the short time we have left. The weather is finally cooperating, and the bone-chilling cold is being replaced with warm sunshine that is obligingly melting the powder snow into wet mounds that are perfect for snowball making. My nephew is on the rock ledge with his younger sister. They are waging a snowball offensive on their older sister, and on my daughter who are on the ground below them. My brother and I stand in the shadow of the rock ledge watching the snowballs fly around. I try to avoid being hit as I snap pictures with my camera. The trash talk flies around as fast as the snowballs. Laughter fills the air.
The dusky sunshine is turning the trees and rocks a golden color. They look like they are warmed by fire.
I turn to the see the sky behind me. The sky is a pastel yellow, baby blue and pink as the sun starts its descent behind the hills. The trees, grasses and rocks look almost black in stark contrast to the Easter egg colors of the sky. I walk up out of the creek bed and stand up, snapping pictures of the sunset. The sound of the snowball fight wafts up the winter wind. I hear the crunch of footsteps on the snow. My brother walks up and stands next to me. “Isn’t it beautiful?” I tell him. He looks at the horizon.
As we stand watching the sky. It changes. The pretty pastel shades morph into bright yellow and orange. The pale blue sky turns into dark gray blue and the snow takes on a gray blue hue. My brother looks at me. “I guess when we were kids, there must have been a million beautiful sunrises and sunsets, and yet I can’t remember a one of them.” I look at the sky.
The sky has morphed again, turning itself inside out. A section of the clouds have parted in a circle of bright blue that shines through the fire-colored clouds around it. I think about what my brother said. Can I remember a sunset this beautiful from my childhood? I pause and close my eyes, willing myself back to my childhood. My memories flash before my eyes, the holidays, the school days, the summers, the falls, the winters. I can’t remember one sunrise or even one sunset. No even one. Ever. I look over at the brother. “They must have been this awesome when we were kids,” I tell him. He shakes his head. “Maybe, we’ll never know. Will we?”
I look past my brother. The flame colors have deepened, and the line of yellow is getting shorter. The circle of blue is more pronounced, like the heavens had opened up a spot for mere mortals like us to gaze up and wonder what really exists above us.
A feeling of sadness washes over me. How could I have missed all of this beauty when was I was a kid? What else have I missed?
Perhaps the ordinariness of having an extraordinary sunrise and sunset most of the time drove me to complacency. Like fireworks, I grew bored of the exquisite sights and looked for bigger, brighter things. I left the beauty of this countryside for the dazzling lights of big cities. I left with conviction in my heart, certain I would never miss this quiet, isolated place. I never looked back at the sunset when I left. I just….left.
Now I know the sunset was always there. It will always be there. For those of us with eyes to see and contentment in our hearts, the beauty of the world will always be there.
I turn to my brother as the kids trudge through the snow to us. “Isn’t the sunset beautiful?” I ask them. One of them shrugs, “Sure, can we go home?” I see my brother’s face light up with a smile. Nothing has changed. They won’t remember a single sunrise or sunset, just as my brother and I don’t. At least not for a while yet. I smile back. “Of course. Let’s go.”
I glance back at the sunset as the kids climb on the sled behind the snowmobile. They are outlined in dark black with the sunset behind them. It’s not ordinary beauty, and I won’t forget this time.
When I get to come home again the sunset will be waiting for me with its exquisite beauty, jogging my memory, reminding me to take a deep breath and savor its extraordinary beauty.
Author of Spirit Warriors: The Concealing
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