November 2010 home page

  Green Flash At Last!
Jeanne Carney | Serpentine Drive


A different sort of dramatic sky
over the Powerhouse in another season.
“Winter 5:01PM Del Mar.” Painting Don Coordt

I came close to missing it. On October 7, if I’d been only five minutes later in arriving at the Del Mar Powerhouse for a musical program, I would have missed it. Or if the chain-link gate to the auditorium had been open, I’d almost certainly have moved inside with other early arrivals to select a seat.

As it happened, I stood for a few minutes at the top of the walkway, taking pleasure in gazing at the grassy sward to my left, this hard-won public ground populated in late afternoon by a few happy dogs and their humans--all warming themselves in a rare sunset.

Overhead, a light breeze rustled the fronds of palm trees. In this coastal season of darkening clouds and marine overlay, October sun was being greeted as a brilliant and departing visitor.

I joined a small clutch of observers staring out to sea. The object of our fixed attention was resting, half of it already slipping below the ocean, moving on to bless other lands and other beaches. At precisely that instant, it completed its descent, and I was startled to recognize the green flash. My unstudied reaction was to gasp, then blink rapidly in disbelief at this phenomenon of light and clouds and precise weathering conditions--a vision gone as soon as glimpsed.

The scientific cause frequently cited since 1912 (atmospheric refraction) falls far short of defining its magic. To the human eye, it appears to be compounded of the blinding gold of sunrise or sunset and the steely blue of ocean, resulting in a spectral light more green than blue. Indeed, the green flash is simply too breathtaking, too teasing and elusive, to be captured by ordinary description. For my third sighting in thirty-nine years, this will-of-the-wind or will-o’-the-wisp, taking its own good time, had left me--as only rapturous moments can do--wistfully yearning for more.


© 2007-2015 Del Mar Community Alliance, Inc.  All rights reserved.