Seizing the moment: Come over for the sunset

It was your average day at work when my phone pinged with a text from my friend Michelle: “Come over for the sunset!” On the spur of the moment, Michelle decided not to let the gorgeous summer evening go uncelebrated. So she sent a quick text to a few friends inviting us over for a spontaneous get-together. A much-too-rare chance to stop everything and seize the moment. To laugh and gab as we melted into westward facing lawn chairs, watching the day wane in an explosion of colors.

That evening, I had an epiphany. How often do I toss aside my endless to-do list and allow myself to just pause and be awestruck by nature? To be fully in the moment, relaxing with people I love? Not nearly enough. So I am turning over a new leaf. I want that sweet, simple evening to be a touchstone, a reminder that life is fleeting and fabulous, and we need to embrace its simplest and most sublime moments every chance we get.

This Fourth of July holiday weekend was my first chance to be the one to say, “Come over for the sunset.” My sister Judy was flying in to stay with us at the cottage for the long weekend. I knew she would relish a sunset moment just as much as I had.

Michelle had kept our impromptu gathering simple, easy and achievable after a long day at work. When Dan and I dropped by around 7 p.m., we drank a glass of wine and ordered pizza. No fuss. No worries. But since I had a few days before Judy arrived, I decided to make our sunset celebration special, spoiling my sis just a bit.

Normally when Judy comes, she’s lucky if I have any food in the fridge or toilet paper. So this time, I blew her away when I not only had plenty of toilet paper, I had also planned a lovely evening for us, catching up while we watched the sunset by the lake.

Like most big sisters, Judy has opened my eyes to a lot of things. She’s the one who gave me my first sip of Champagne. So I had to get a bottle of our favorite bubbly to pop open while we relaxed and dined on the dock.

Judy and I are always officially on a diet. But just in case our resolve waned just a bit after a glass or two of Champagne, I wanted to have a delightful dessert on hand. So I ordered petite cakes from The French Bee, my favorite neighborhood purveyor of all things mouth-watering. These melt-in-your-mouth delicacies were worth every single calorie.

I have resolved to do more sunsets. I hope you will too. Your sunset celebration can be as effortless as a last-minute invite to a few dear friends, no worries about having to cook a meal or clean your house.

Or, you can plan a light summer snack, like fresh fruit and an assortment of cheese. Even the simplest of fare looks fantastic when you serve it in lovely bowls, like we did here at Innisfree. Dan and I like to keep Sancerre, a light French wine, chilled and ready for summer evenings outside. If wine isn’t your thing, toss some cucumbers and fresh basil in a pitcher and top it with chilled water for a wonderfully refreshing summer drink.

But don’t let the food or beverages or table treatment be the main thing. The main thing is this: stopping in the moment, reveling in nature’s daily miracle, drinking in the joy of friendship.

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This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at www.nellhills.com