More Splashy Sunsets
"I've never seen such beauty in a sunset before," said Sun
Ai Ch'oe, a recent visitor from Seoul, Korea. "The sky was painted such brilliant
colors like an artist's canvas.
"Sunsets in Saugatuck-Douglas have long enchanted visitors in this historic artists
colony located along the coastal dunes of immense Lake Michigan. It is the sunsets in all
their panoramic splendor that each evening draws the expectant multitudes to Saugatuck
Dunes State Park and also Oval Beach.
Another treasure is a myth for some, for others a reality, and a nightly quest for many.
Tourists and year-round residents alike marvel in the unpredictable, extraordinary image
of "The Green Flash" light show.
With each sunset, there's the anticipation that this might be a green flash night.
Witnesses to the shocking beauty of the brilliant green light appearing across the horizon
are astounded. "I'd heard of the myth and one summer night, saw it. It reappeared
three or four more times during the next few weeks. It was a phosphorous green - and each
time, it flashed for only a few seconds." To catch the "green flash"
becomes a quest!
Grace Wolf-Chase, research astronomer at Adler Planetarium, Chicago, explains: "At
sunset, you're looking at a lot more layers of atmosphere than at noon. The atmosphere
acts like a prism and refracts light. The setting sun looks kind of reddish, and if you
catch it at the right time, as the sun disappears, you can catch a glimpse of the green
left over." The expanse of Lake Michigan as viewed from the 200-foot
Saugatuck-Douglas sand dunes or the large, soft beaches is widely believed to be the prime
location to see this natural lightshow.
Yet another natural phenomena presents itself on the pure crystal beaches of
Saugatuck-Douglas, this time in the form of "Singing Sand." Portrayed by
scientists and visitors alike as the haunting beautiful sound of human voices singing,
others hear the melodic, cascading strains of a violin as the sand is gently moved by the
wind or when walked upon.
Nowhere else on Earth did ancient forces
combine in the same way to form the quartz dunes. Saugatuck sand is a compound of millions
of tiny clear fragments of quartz crystals (nine out of every ten sand grains is quartz)
that give the sand its soft, smooth texture. When the sand has just the right balance
between the wind and humidity, the sand along the water's edge will sing underfoot, thus,
geologists term it "Saugatuck Sand," while mere mortals refer to it as "the
singing sands." It's analogous to the ring made by a damp finger along the rim of a
thin crystal goblet. No wonder MTV and Travel and Leisure have named Saugatuck
beaches among the World's Top Ten!
"Those dunes are to the Midwest what
the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and Yosemite to California. They contribute a signature of
time and eternity." Carl Sandburg
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