Today, as I was driving back to my home after being away for Thanksgiving, I noticed clouds were forming over the middle of the State and I knew the sunset would be dramatic. Before I could go somewhere to watch the spectacle, I walked my dog around town. He'd been stuck in the car for 4 not 2-1/2 hours, due to heavy traffic. I forgot Saturday is the day people sell produce in our town. I asked the woman with the tableful of fresh vegetables if she would be there for awhile. She said, "I'm packing it in now. Night is fixing to come after me." I asked if she would be there for another fifteen minutes and she said yes, so I ran home and got some money and drove back in the car. The whole way her words haunted me. I never had a phrase for how I feel each night I am alone somewhere. When I returned, she selected some wonderful looking squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes and greens for me–and just the right amount. Then she told me I hadn't seen anything yet and to come back every Saturday.
She was right, I had not seen anything yet. I drove out in into the middle of Paynes Prairie to watch the sunset. On one side of the road, I saw the sun slip behind the clouds and these rays of light shoot out from behind them. The dark clouds were hovering above, adding more tension and otherworldliness to the scene. In the foreground, grasses and plants were turning to seed. The prairie is often filled with blooming pickerel weed and lotus, but this was the dormant, scrubby vegetation of late season and the last rays of light lit up the landscape as if it were still in full glory and at the height of bloom.
On the other side of the road, I saw this. The grasses formed a blue-green ocean that rolled as far as I could see and the sky was painted with sweeping clouds with hints of peach beneath the layers of purple and blue. I often feel out of my element here, having grown up near the Gulf of Mexico. Tonight, though still transplanted, I felt the prairie welcome me in a soft embrace and looking out over her vast expanse, I experienced the sense of infinity and hope the wide open waters of the Gulf often suggest. Night was fixing to come after me and the prairie, but I was home, at least on this one special evening.