I’m ashamed to admit it, but I was a “green flash” denier for years. Oh, I’d heard tales of the optical phenomenon…the brilliant flash of green that occurs as the sun sets over the ocean since moving to San Diego in 1981.
Many confirmed reports and trusted friends have testified to the existence of the green flash. Even Wikipedia believes…calling the atmospheric event “a green spot visible for no more than a second or two just above the sun as it sets.” It’s just that I’d never seen the green for myself.
It’s not for lack of trying. From Ocean Beach, La Jolla Shores and Coronado, I’ve stared…afraid to blink…waiting for the sun to sink in the west so I could get a peek at the rumored flash of green. I’ve even watched from the patio of the Pacific Beach restaurant named for the famous phenomenon… hopes dashed once again when the green flash was a no-show. Over the years, my faith in the flash faded and I finally stopped trying.
Well, guess what happened when I least expected it? Like a gift from God, the green flash revealed itself and today, I’m a believer! It happened a couple of weeks ago when my friend, Vicki and I decided to take her sweet terrier mix for a walk. Vicki suggested a stroll along Sunset Cliffs. It was late afternoon – cool and clear, a classic San Diego winter day.
Vicki, Buddy and I hiked nearly two hours along the coastal cliffs south of Ocean Beach. Named for it’s exquisite sunset vistas, Sunset Cliffs encompasses nearly 70 acres of bluffs and walking paths high above the Pacific Ocean. As luck would have it, we completed our walk just as the sun was disappearing in the west.
The sky was clear, horizon unobstructed – conditions perfect for an appearance by the elusive green flash. As we gazed at the sinking sun, Vicki (a believer from several personal sightings!) said quietly, “Keep watching.” And just as the sun slipped below the horizon, I saw it – an unmistakable ray of green shot up from the sunset point then disappeared. For a moment I didn’t move. Didn’t breathe.
When I could finally inhale again, I turned to Vicki and did something akin to a “happy dance.” Then (and equally troubling to onlookers) came a pathetic fist pump and high-five with Vicki. As we headed back to the car, she pretended not to know me, but I didn’t care. We’d just seen something extraordinary.
Overwhelmed by a deep sense of amazement I thanked God for magical moments and the beauty of a sunset. We live in paradise, folks. And the green flash is real!
See you at Sunset Cliffs!
Contact Carol by emailing her at Carol@palomarhealth.org.