Florida Sunsets to Blow Your Mind

    By Lauren Tjaden

    It’s one of the perks of the Sunshine State: fabulous sunsets.

    Most heralded are the sunsets on the Gulf of Mexico, when the day ends with a blaze of color over the waves.

    Some towns, such as Key West and Clearwater Beach, celebrate the event with street performers and a nightly gathering. But in many more places where it’s not official, a smattering of folks will gather and take pause to watch the show.

    Such was the case at the Naples Beach Hotel the evening I shot this picture, glass of wine in hand as I leaned on the seawall. A few people came to perch beside me, our bare toes curled into the sugar-sand as we marveled at the changing hues on the surf.

    But we all celebrated our own ways. Other people strolled down the shore, and still others sat at the Sunset Bar and raised toasts to Mother Nature.

    That’s part of the beauty of this simple ritual: you just do what feels right.

    This girl on Fort Myers Beach was clearly overwhelmed with the glory, and arms outstretched, she became part of it.

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    Lauren Tjaden

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    Lauren Tjaden

    Sometimes the sunset is no more than a notation, a reminder to take a moment to pay attention. I was working in my room in the Sand Key Sheraton, a sumptuous resort just south of Clearwater Beach, when the orange sky caught my attention. I took a breath and took a picture; both were worthwhile.

    But a sunset is best when savored, a delicious treat to enjoy as it changes. One night in Boca Grande my husband and I drove out to the beach for dinner, but the restaurant was closed. Our stomachs growling, we walked out to the totally deserted beach and sat in the sand. It was literally almost impossible to leave. The scene begged to be watched, the colors ever deepening and shifting.

    And when hunger finally won the battle and we piled into the car again, it still wasn’t over. This is the same sunset about 20 minutes later, captured as we drove off of the island -- still on our way to get some food.

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    Lauren Tjaden

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    Lauren Tjaden

    This sunset in Mexico Beach also warranted attention. At the southern edge of the hamlet, which is marked by miles of pure white beach, nightfall began to creep over the dunes. The sunset wasn’t vivid but soft, a soothing muting of tones. That’s another great thing about sunsets: they’re like fingerprints, each one unique to itself.

    In fact, no matter where you are in Florida and no matter the conditions, the sunset is often a treat. New Smyrna Beach is on the Atlantic, not the Gulf, and it was cloudy, but we still enjoyed a beautiful display on our evening stroll.

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    Lauren Tjaden

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    Lauren Tjaden

    At last but not least, this is how we say goodnight at my house in Groveland, not over a generous beach, but over a small palm-fringed lake. It often starts with the lake glimmering silver.

    But as always, it changes and grows more intense.

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    Lauren Tjaden

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    Lauren Tjaden

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    Lauren Tjaden

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    Lauren Tjaden

    Remember, every day is a gift.

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