Glittering eyes and the magic of this world

When I was in my twenties, my mom took me with her to Hawaii. Before that trip, I had never heard of the green flash at sunset, not even in my college meteorology class. Then again, my professor was most interested in avalanches, and so maybe the green flash didn’t figure into his lecture notes.

I didn’t see the green flash on that trip with my mother—though we watched many sunsets hoping to see it—and I tucked the idea of the green flash into one of the corners of my mind. From time to time in the intervening years I would wonder: Is the green flash a real thing? Is it a myth? I didn’t know.

Fast forward to the beginning of this month, when my husband and I stood on a mountainside in Kauai looking west.

When we first got out of the car, we realized we had a bit of time before the sun would “hit” the ocean. Should we wait?

The day had been rainy and foggy, not great for seeing Waimea Canyon or the coastline from some of the highest lookouts. But there was to be a reward that day for the decision to stop where we did (my husband gets credit for that) and the decision to stay still instead of moving on to watch the setting sun elsewhere.

As the sun dove into the ocean, first this:

And then this:

The green flash of the sun at sunset

My brain registered “green,” but I couldn’t speak the word. Then I heard my husband say, “Oh, wow. I saw it.” I’m not even sure before that moment either one of us had ever mentioned hoping to see a green flash at sunset. Yet, there it was: a moment we shared in awe at this amazing world.

Sometimes I wonder if God, grinning, says, “Hey, watch this.” The moment was magical.

Seeing the green flash reminded me of a Roald Dahl quote from The Minpins I came across recently:

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”

If my husband and I hadn’t believed in the possibility of the green flash, hadn’t been staring and waiting and hoping, might we have missed it? Would we have headed to the car too early and had the green flash to our backs?

I know this has been a tough week for a lot of you. Some of you are watching the world you know and love burn up all around you. Some of you are still recovering from Harvey. Others are in the early stages of clean-up or cannot even get home yet after Irma came storming through your lives. As you get back to what is normal, day-to-day life for you, I hope you’ll keep your eyes glittering and watchful. Look for the unlikely places where wonderful secrets are waiting. The reward might just be magical.


A few weeks back, I posted some ways you can help victims of Harvey. I’m posting two of my favorites here, and adding a new one. All three offer ways to help victims of Harvey and Irma.


One last thing for today: today is Roald Dahl Day (in honor of his birthday and in memory of him and his works). Do you have a favorite Dahl story or quote? If so, I hope you’ll share it below. (Mine, other than the Minpins quote, is his story The Enormous Crocodile. Reading it as a child gave me a tad less fear of crocodiles and filled me with hope that, if I should ever encounter a crocodile, maybe it would be a hapless, not-so-smart one like the one in Dahl’s story.)

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