It rained all day, imparting a halting melancholy to the prevailing mood for my wife, the dogs, and me; we all seemed affected. The summer was gone, and it was time to start the work to prepare for winter, an indelible tarnish to the gold in our remaining years.

But by late afternoon, blue was on the horizon, a rich shade of azure reflecting nature’s compensatory response to the earlier rain. It was going to be an impeccably clear sunset.

Magnificence is universal in the Pacific Northwest, and my gratitude for the natural beauty of where we live is an insignificant fee for such sanctification. I decided to drive the ten minutes to the beach to watch the sun disappear behind the Olympic Mountains, some fifty miles away across the straits of Juan de Fuca.

The beach I chose for my rendezvous with the setting sun faces west, directly into the prevailing winds where the modest surf could not conceal the imputed promise of the water’s cyclic tidal purpose. Standing amid the ragged driftwood with face to the wind, I thought about where I had been, the ethereal everywhere of my life, a story preparing to end. And begin.

Reluctantly, returning to the car to drive home, the day’s melancholy returned with animated purity.

Topping the final hill to my destination, a murmuration of Starlings played in the wind just shy of rooftop height, awakening a dormant recollection of youthful curiosity. Approaching my house, I couldn’t stop smiling as the birds performed a final time before landing to welcome me home.

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