Sunset State – By Ella Higginson
Tell me, where is there a land in which the darkest day of winter flings her dull coverings at evening and lays the pure flaming gold of her heart over the whole country, sea and mountains, as it does on Puget Sound.
Every land may occasionally have a gorgeous sunset; and then, when one does stray in unexpectedly, how the whole country comes and stares at it, and how the newspapers rave over it, and how they look at each other, and trot out that old, weary, ‘talk about Italy,’ until our own ears and eyes and nerves fairly tingle!
But think–only think!– of a land where each evening from six o’clock until ten in summer, and from four until six in winter, the whole western sky and the sea that dances beneath are one flaming tremulous, dazzling glow of blended and blending, gold, purple, scarlet, orange, green, blue, opal, and pearl–shifting, fading, melting, burning, until one’s breath almost fails in a very ecstasy of passionate admiration of it.
Column on column of amethyst and pearl pile up and stand toppling ready to fall in the clouds; and in the far distance of the rainbow-tinted tunnel, one sees the sun–a great wheel of flaming gold–laying his trembling rim upon the low, graceful fir trees reaching upward quiet arms, until each fine, spicy needle stands out, clear and delicate, against the luminous background.
And many and many a time, while the west is light with sunset fires into the clear blue east rises slowly the harvest moon–silver and cool and large–whitening and softening everything before her.
Sometimes, too, when there is a mist brooding upon the bosom of these blue waters, all the tinted sun and cloud rays sinking through it, touch it to life and vivid color, till it seems one vast distance of trembling thistle-down, blown this way and that by the strong, salt sea-winds. The ‘Sunset’ state!
There is temptation to the lover of beauty–and who does not love beauty?–in the name. I have seen the laborer, toiling with bared breast and swelling muscles at the huge walls of rock cliffs with pick and mallet, pause and turn wondering, wistful eyes crossing the sparkling waves to the glory of the dying day.
I have seen the true artist stand with dim eye and hushed breath–speechless-awed into insignificance before the painting that God has swung before His children, saying: ‘Come the rich and poor, the young and the old, the strong and the feeble, the saint and the sinner–come one and all!’
Here is a painting traced on heaven such as no man can copy and no man can buy. The veriest beggar that crawls the earth may drink in the glory of this scene side by side with the king, if he only has the simple love of beauty and of Nature’s God in his heart. It is free–for the gold of the earth cannot buy the gold of heaven! O! you who love this land let it be our own ‘Sunset’ state.”