Sky on Fire: Sunsets in the City


“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.”

~ John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Spectacular Sunsets

In the late summer and early autumn of 2008 and 2009, the sun in Calgary took to setting itself with outrageous beauty and flare. There must have been pixie dust or some other magic in the air those nights—on several occasions our city was graced with the most incredibly saturated, spectacular sky-on-fire sunsets I’ve ever seen. Incredibly brilliant colours danced in the dusk sky in the most dramatic ways—ways I’ve yet to see again. I thought I’d burst from the beauty of it all—an ever-changing spectacle of red, orange and sometimes pink flaming clouds melted into the skies. And I got to enjoy all of this beauty right from our living room window (where all of these photographs were shot from). What glorious shows… what a glorious series of shows we had!


“The day, water, sun, moon, night—
I do not have to purchase these things with money.”

~ Plautis


“There is not one blade of grass,
there is no color in this world that is not intended to make us rejoice.”

~John Calvin



“The sky is that beautiful old parchment
in which the sun and the moon keep their diary.”

~Alfred Kreymborg



“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm,
but to add color to my sunset sky.”

~ Rabindranath Tagore


The glass in this building has a bluish tint; at certain times of year, when the sun sets directly across from it, the sky magically illuminates the glass.


Image Credits:

All photographs by madlyinlovewithlife: © 2008 & 2009 madlyinlovewithlife

18 thoughts on “Sky on Fire: Sunsets in the City

    • Thanks so much, Debra! It was glorious, indeed! The sky truly is a wonderful stage, on which premieres a new show every night, featuring an entirely new cast of colours and shape-shifting characters! :))

  1. Jeannie, such gorgeous photos! When I saw them, it reminded me of a poem by James Tate.
    See if you agree…

    “Never Again the Same

    Speaking of sunsets, last night’s was shocking.
    I mean, sunsets aren’t supposed to frighten you, are they?
    Well, this one was terrifying.
    People were screaming in the streets.
    Sure, it was beautiful, but far too beautiful.
    It wasn’t natural.
    One climax followed another and then another
    until your knees went weak and you couldn’t breathe.
    The colors were definitely not of this world,
    peaches dripping opium,
    pandemonium of tangerines,
    inferno of irises,
    Plutonian emeralds,
    all swirling and churning, swabbing,
    like it was playing with us, like we were nothing,
    as if our whole lives were a preparation for this,
    this for which nothing could have prepared us
    and for which we could not have been less prepared.
    The mockery of it all stung us bitterly.
    And when it was finally over we whimpered and cried and howled.
    And then the streetlights came on as always and we looked into one another’s eyes–
    ancient caves with still pools and those little transparent fish
    who have never seen even one ray of light.
    And the calm that returned to us
    was not even our own.”

    • THAT’S IT!!! This amazing poem perfectly conveys how I felt during those amazing sunset shows (I was jumping out of my skin watching these sunsets; the photographs don’t even begin to capture a fraction of the beauty). Thank you so much, Lis! I have never seen this poem before and I absolutely LOVE it! Thank you so much for posting it here. I will always think of it (and you) when I see an indescribably beautiful sunset. Wishing you a happy weekend ahead. ~ Jeannie :))

  2. Hello Jeannie :))
    Wow, that was an amazing sunset indeed! It must have been a million more times exciting to see it all in real-time and with your own eyes. And how cool it is that your beautiful city complemented nature’s special show perfectly! Hope you have a perfect weekend :)))

    • Thank you so much, Takami. These photos are actually all from different sunsets. There were several crazy beautiful and rather surreal sunsets in 2008 and 2009 and, though we get lots of beautiful sunsets, I have yet to see anything that compares to the incredible sky on fire sunsets from those particular years. But I’m sure one will come along again! Wishing you a very happy weekend! :))

  3. Jeannie, I’m glad you like the poem. I had never heard of James Tate until my daughter had to do a paper on American poets for her English class years ago. His work has been called “surrealistic”, and I have to agree. I mean..”peaches dripping opium”. Wow. I love his descriptions: From “Dream On”:
    “It’s a rare species of bird
    that refuses to be categorized.
    Its song is barely audible.
    It is like a dragonfly in a dream–
    here, then there, then here again,
    low-flying amber-wing darting upward
    then out of sight.”

    Oh, I could go on! Sorry! Have a great weekend!

    • Hi Lis! Wow! What great poems! I LOVE them! I am so delighted that you introduced me to James Tate. I read more about him and his work as well as more of his poetry and I’m smitten with so many of his descriptions. I see he is still teaching at the University of Massachusetts—I’d love to be a fly on the wall in his poetry class. His unconventional way of describing things brings a spark to me. Thanks so much for your thoughtful and interesting comments. And thanks again for introducing me to James Tate’s amazing poetry. Have a great week ahead! :))

  4. Wow, these are some incredible colors, incredible photos… Not sure which shot I like the best, each so special in their own way. I do love the Steinbeck quote…a great novel.

Leave a comment:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s