Recipe for the perfect sunset

Black-bellied whistling ducks watch the sun set over Lake Osprey. All photos by Fran Palmeri

We year-round residents are spoiled. That’s because in summer we’re treated to pyrotechnic sunsets beyond the wildest imaginings of snowbirds who are back home in Indiana. They’re used to “red ball descends into blue Gulf” with a regularity we would call monotony.

Siesta Key Beach at last light.

The summer landscape — 90% sky, 10% percent land — makes Florida unique. The day starts quietly, with clouds dotting the sky like “little sheep.” By noon things have speeded up. Stratus and cumulus clouds scud across the sky, inviting vultures, crows and other birds to ride the thermals. Hours of sun fuel enormous thunderheads, which rain down their fury towards mid-afternoon. In evening, skies are ablaze with lurid purples, blazing oranges and golds against an azure backdrop. It’s a different show every day. If we bottled and sold them, we could pay down the national debt!

Florida’s summer landscape is 90% sky and 10% land.
Sarasota Bay seen from Marie Selby Gardens.

For the perfect sunset, you need:

Rain during the day.

Partial clearing in late afternoon.

Thunderheads lingering off in the distance.

A flat open space for viewing.

Water or a few trees.

A garnish of rainbows, lightning bolts and flocks of birds.

Shorebirds enjoy the solitude at Myakka River State Park.

Enjoy! Only 24 hours before your next serving.

A ‘false’ sunset takes center stage in the sky at Oscar Scherer State Park.
Great sunsets are right outside your door.