Decades ago I made a list of the ten most beautiful sights I had ever seen. They were so impressive that even though the list got lost, I was, over a few days, able to reconstruct the list. I posted them on Facebook one-a-day for ten days starting on 9/2/2021 but in no particular order.
Below is the list starting with my first post on 9/2/2021.
I once made a list of the ten most beautiful sights I had ever seen. We didn’t have cameras in our phones so I had to take a mental snapshot of moments when the locale, the weather and the lighting came together to create an unforgettable image. No exotic location was required. The first I remember was out my kitchen window when I lived in Connecticut. The sky was clear, the leaves were off the trees and there was a light coating of snow on the ground. The full moon made the white birch tree with a double trunk glow. I don’t think a camera could have done the scene justice.
Item two on my list of the ten most beautiful sights I have ever seen. (In no particular order.) In my mind, I think the train stopped but, in fact, I think I just snapped a mental picture. On train from Oslo to Bergen, Norway. I guess above the tree line. Wide, gradual and snow-covered hill climbing to a gray sky. Not a mark on the snow. Near the hilltop a gray fence also climbing at an angle an artist might choose. Monotone except for the dot of red. A skier standing by the fence. A minute later and the smooth surface of the untouched snow would be gone. But, I got my mental snapshot. Better, I suspect, than an actual photo.
Item three on my list of the ten most beautiful sights I have ever seen. (In no particular order.) This one is easy to visualize and probably should be a video (not photo) memory. Lightning bolts in the desert outside Tucson on a dark night. Why I was driving on a back road outside of Tucson late at night, I have no idea.
A lot of people say they’ve experienced number 4 on my list of the ten most beautiful things I’ve ever seen, but I was close to fifty when I stepped into a clear, moonless night on St Agnes, one of the Isles of Scilly, and was stopped dead in my tracks by the sight of the night sky. I’d watched the sky from islands along the US’s East Coast and deserts in the West, but I never had a glimmer of what I saw that night. I stopped dead, grabbed my friend’s arm and exclaimed (I don’t usually exclaim) “Oh My God!” I hope to see this sight again if I can visit the islands 28 miles off the SW tip of England in the right part of the lunar cycle and catch a clear night. I don’t remember anything else in my life stopping me dead in my tracks.
I am still working through my list of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen. Day 5, sight 5. I posted about this one before on tax day. Leona Helmsley was ordered to start her prison term for tax evasion on April 15, 1992. Her husband, Harry, owner of the Empire State Building, protested by keeping the lights on the Building dark. Lit only by the light of an almost-full moon, the building looked gorgeous - especially to anyone walking east on 33rd Street to get their taxes to the main post office before midnight. That’s what I heard!
Number 6 on list of ten most beautiful sights (in no particular order). This one is different because I’ve seen it more than once - mostly when driving southwest on interstates between Boston and Philadelphia. The pitch black silhouettes of leafless trees against a bright pink sky at sunset. When I was into needlework, I saw a lot of patterns honoring this phenomenon but none of them did the sight justice.
Day 7. Sight 7. PA 23 runs through Valley Forge Park. Going east you go through the woody, hilly part. Then, the road runs along a ridge with hills sloping off to the right. I never realized that I was looking at a series of valleys until early one morning when a heavy mist wove it’s way through them. It was like looking down at the clouds. I’ve driven that road more times than I can count but I never saw anything like that sight again.
Beautiful sight number 8. I have no idea why I was in London in April, but a street of white Victorian townhouses In Kensington that I had walked down many times in winter was transformed by trees covered with white flowers. Most of the petals were still on the branches but enough had fallen that they laid a white carpet down the sidewalk. Then, a gentle breeze created a shower of white petals. The pink and purple blooms on other blocks were gorgeous but the white wonderland was magical.
Sight 9. A great view of the New York skyline provided the only compensation for hundreds of hours on the New Jersey Turnpike. No view was better than one I caught on a day sometime between 1973 and 2001 when I was driving south at sunset and the twin towers of the World Trade center, painted an orangish-gold by the setting sun, shone against the blue sky. Valerie Silver Ellis, a former colleague I quote often, usually when talking about advice I should have followed, was 46 years old when she went to work on the the 104th floor of the North Tower on a Tuesday morning like any other twenty years ago today. The memory of the beautiful vision from the turnpike is bittersweet.
Beautiful Sight 10 of 10. The novel, The Ice Storm, was set on a road I lived on in Connecticut but I don’t recall ever experiencing an ice storm there. The one I recall was near my parents’ last home in Pennsylvania. The road at the end of our street curved past a big stone house sitting back on a wide lawn crossed by a stream split into two sections by a waterfall. And, trees. Lots and lots of trees. When the ice storm hit, the lawn turned silver, the waterfall froze and the trees were coated with ice that sparkled in the sunlight. From what I can see on a drive-by, everything is now gone.
In thinking over the decades since I made the list, I could only think of one sight I would add to the list. I always thought that those photos of huge moons hanging over a scene such as the New York skyline were fake, products of Photoshop. However, one night on a New Jersey Transit train leaving New York, I looked out the window and realized they were real. An unbelievably big moon had just climbed into view over New York. The sight was not fake.
I've had a long dry spell without seeing unforgettable sights. I am not sure the problem is a change in my travel or in my vision. I need to get out and about and hope that I am lucky to encounter more unforgettable moments and wise enough to see them when I do.