On each other’s team


Tuesday was one of those extraordinary days we get just once or twice each winter: a freakishly warm afternoon conjuring memories of spring. A delightful tease. It’s disconcerting at first — weird and unnatural, really — but you dig around for flats, shuck off your bulky coat and bask in the oddness. Knowing it’s fleeting makes it all the more exciting. You choose to revel.

When I left the office that night, heels clicking against the sidewalk, I looked up at a burning sunset that followed me all the way home. I was driving into that sunset, it felt; dusk was mesmerizing. And eerie, too, knowing how temperatures would plummet from 65 to 30 overnight. Like any good one-time aspiring meteorologist, I’d been following the winter weather reports for days . . . and sure enough, a snowstorm blanketed D.C. and its cozy suburbs by yesterday afternoon.

But this was Tuesday — the calm before the storm. I met my husband without a jacket, arriving in the crowded pre-storm grocery parking lot after driving with the windows down. I thought about my college commute, driving up and down the Beltway with Jimmy Eat World and Death Cab for Cutie cranked high. I remembered once sailing across the Solomons Island bridge with my sister, the Killers’ “Mr. Brightside” playing so loud our voices strained to match Brandon Flowers’ every note.

And there was more — so much more. I once had a tradition of playing John Mayer’s live album — especially “Why Georgia” — as soon as the weather began to warm, and hearing Coldplay’s “Strawberry Swing” takes me back to riding the Tube around London alone. I played it constantly when I got back from my long weekend in 2009, trying to recapture the rush of moving independently through a foreign city. My city.

I miss music. I hadn’t really connected that until Tuesday, when I took a brief leave of Longbourn to enjoy the simple pleasures of the radio. My audio book didn’t fit my warm January mood: unexpectedly sunny; defiantly free. Scanning through the stations, I eventually found Lorde and OneRepublic . . . and for a second I didn’t feel so out-of-touch, so removed. I knew all the words.

And I sang them . . . loudly. As loud as I could.

Because I was alone — but not lonely.

Because spring really isn’t so very far away.

Sunset is its own occasion

{Cobb Island, Maryland}

Sunsets always seemed like a vacation thing.

How often do I pause at the end of a busy day to savor the pinks, reds and golds of dusk? When do I stand in my own front yard to soak up the fading sun? I don’t drive to take in sunsets when I’m home. I don’t have a camera in my hand. I’m making dinner, or driving, or reading, or watching “Teen Mom.” Or trying to write a blog post.

But on vacation? Sunset is its own occasion. No invitation required; just sit back and enjoy the show.

No matter where we are, I drop everything to photograph those colors — or just sit in the quiet, no camera, as the sun dips lower and lower. Often I find myself sitting in silence, staring at nothing. And everything. I don’t usually talk. As the sun sinks below the horizon, I huddle with friends or family or my boyfriend — whoever is handy — until darkness has enveloped us all.

In my everyday life, I don’t find myself sitting still long enough to watch the changing of light. Cloud patterns don’t draw me. I’m running to the next thing, and then the next . . . and summer darkness signals nothing more than a time to sleep. And do it all over again.

I’m trying to change that — and I think photography is helping me. In my attempts to soak up more of the “little moments” and not worry so much about the big picture, I’m naturally paying more attention to sunsets — year-round. Dusk is my favorite time of day, and I grew up listening to my mom talk about the golden hour as she clicked away with her own camera.

And now I emulate her. Being a complete iPhone addict, my phone is never far from my hands — and it seems I pay more attention to sunsets than I thought. Scrolling through my phone photos last night, a solid 50 percent of the 538 are sunsets. (The rest are food. Or my feet. Or nail polish. [I think I have a problem.])

Sunsets are a moment of beauty in an otherwise humdrum day. And though I don’t often have my DSLR with me to photograph the golden hour, I admire it — and take more time to appreciate it. Watching a sunset makes me feel . . . grateful. I hope I don’t ever lose that.

{Silver Beach, California}

{London, England}

{East Berlin, Pennsylvania}

{Outer Banks, North Carolina}

{Gerry, New York}

Fall party food & sunsets

Another successful family birthday party! My grandmother never fails to pull off a really fun bash. We celebrated my uncle’s big day, which is actually Tuesday . . . but who can get together during the work week? Needless to say, the food was delicious. I ate way too much but can hardly contain myself with “party food” all spread out before me. As my mother always says, “It tastes so good because you never make it for yourself!” And this, apparently, is true.

We spent much of the afternoon watching the Cartoon Network’s old “Goosebumps” re-runs from the mid ’90s with my 11-year-old cousin — a surefire good time. And hey, the Redskins beat the Eagles today! So the gentlemen were all happy — including my dad, who’s on his way back from Philly.

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Sunset in Southern Maryland

For some reason, I don’t often find myself out at dusk . . . I guess I’m the opposite of vampiric! I was actually walked up from the street to my house a few days ago and happened to notice and find the sunset particularly beautiful. It’s the light filtering in as the air gets cooler — like when the sky is so blue in autumn, it hurts your eyes. Though I have to say that this past summer, to me, has been more “fall”-like than ever before . . . Summers in D.C. are usually disgusting, thick and putrid, but this year was certainly the exception to that rule . . . I spent most of my time feeling really chilly both in and out of work.

But back to sunsets! They’re gorgeous. My mom loves taking photos of twilight, dusk and sundown more than anything else, probably — and it’s wearing off on me. I love it too.