Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Right of the Ball

Tillerwoman always wanted a view.

When we were house-hunting back in 2007, one of her requirements was a view.

We didn't realistically expect to find a house that satisfied all of our other requirements and also had a view quite as good as the one we ended up with. We got lucky. The residents and guests at the Tillercottage enjoy a wide panoramic view to the west across Mount Hope Bay.

And sunsets to die for.

Actually it may not really be west. More on this later.

We've never lived in a house before that had such an uninterrupted view of the western horizon. Once you start watching the sunsets every evening, you start to appreciate why those ancient dudes who built Stonehenge (and all the other "henges") were so interested in how the position of the setting and rising sun changes with the seasons. I kind of knew the theory in an intellectual way before, but you never really feel it in your guts until you have watched the sunsets every day for a year or so.

We moved into the house in late May and for the next few weeks of summer watched the sun set almost directly in front of the house, over the small hill in Bristol known as Mount Hope. Then as the season changed to autumn and winter, the sunsets moved to the south (the left) until they eventually disappeared behind those trees in the top photo. We could still see the sunsets if we walked up the road a bit, only now the setting sun was over Mount Hope Bridge and the Eastern Passage of Narragansett Bay.

As spring came in 2008, the sunsets reappeared into view and moved further and further to the right very day. I started thinking about exactly what compass bearing the sunsets would be at different times of the year. I guess I had never really internalized the fact that the sunsets would be due west at the time of the equinoxes. I consulted a chart and realized that, by some fortuitous coincidence, our house was due east of the northernmost tip of Aquidneck Island. (Newport is at the southern end of the that island.) That northern tip, known as Common Fence Point, can be seen as that narrow spit of land poking out of the trees on the left of the top photo. Sure enough, around March 21 the sun set over that point of land.

So our house doesn't really face west. It faces somewhat north of west. Right in front of us, poking up over Mount Hope, is a water tower which is situated somewhere in the town of Bristol. It's roundish. We took to referring to it as "the ball." And we started tracking the sunset's progress relative to the ball.

"It's way to the left of the ball this week."

"It's getting closer to the ball."

"I think it will set just left of the ball tonight."

Last week, on the last day of May, I took the photo below of the sunset.

You can see "the ball."

The sunset is now to the right of the ball.

Summer has arrived.

Come on down.



Joe said...

How wonderful it is to gaze out across the water and watch the sun go down. I'm glad the Tillerwoman got her wish.

George A said...

Did you have a ring side seat to watch the transit of Venus?

Tillerman said...

The transit is this evening (June 5) I believe. It's looking very cloudy right now but it's a little brighter over to the west, so we may have a chance of seeing it.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

If you actually sail on those waters you look down on, you are truly blessed, Skip.

Tillerman said...

Strangely enough I don't sail Mount Hope Bay very often Doc. There is easier access for launching a Laser to some other parts of the Narragansett Bay system such as the Sakonnet River and Upper Narragansett Bay and Bristol Harbor. But I have sailed in that view from time to time.

I may post another photo tomorrow that will show both (a) why it's not easy to launch a Laser in front of my house and (b) why Mount Hope Bay is not quite as scenic from all angles.

Baydog said...

Wow. Original photos from Tillerman. You're making progress, my sage.
Unintentionally, or maybe not, you have contributed to your latest assignment. You've raised the bar and your disciples now have the task of catching up. Let the games begin.

Keep Reaching said...

Lovely. And you claim to be "constantly humbled by the superior skills of so many other bloggers in the art of creating marvellous photos"?

Tillerman said...

Thanks guys. One of the reasons for yesterday's request for photography tips was that I really would like to start using more of my own photos on the blog instead of just stealing them from Google Images like I usually do (which makes me a very bad person.) So I thought I would jump in and start having a go.

All constructive feedback on my photos would of course be welcome.

Keep Reaching said...

Don't worry about no longer stealing Google Images - I will continue the proud tradition.

Anonymous said...

Tonight you may be able to get a photo or two of the Wednesday night races by TYC/SIRA boats starting around 18:30. You will probably see a spinnaker or two ; )


Tillerman said...

I will probably have a go at taking some pictures of the TYC/SIRA racing tonight, especially if the lighting is good. How do I recognize your boat Dave? Will you be the one in the lead?

By the way, where do Spar Island Racing Association have their clubhouse? I've looked all over Spar Island and I can't find it.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

I am looking at the map. The only sail I ever had in Atlantic waters was in 1965, when we went east the summer after my brother's death. One day, Dad found us all a ride on a double ender, approximately 30 ft. It was an eye-opening and idyllic sail for this native Colorado kid. All of a sudden, a two person navy training jet flamed out right above us. One pilot ejected before the plane nosed down on (I'm thinking) Bay Islands. There was a huge ball of flame behind some trees. When the pilot hit the water, we were the closest boat to him, but power boats converged and beat us to the rescue.

Doc Häagen-Dazs said...

Typo: 1955, (not 1965).

Anonymous said...

No clubhouse :) S/V Selah is in "C" fleet, the third and last group of sailboats to start. We may be in the lead at the start, it gets complicated after that. We will be the ones drinking Narragansett Tallboys at the finnish :)

If you see us our mainsail has an R-33 at the head and no other numbers pretty boat with a white hull and blue dodger.
S/V Selah

bonnie said...

Oops, I was looking for Proper Course and I seem to have stumbled across The Natural Navigator instead. Neat post, though, Tristan! Thanks!

Tillerman said...

LOL Bonnie. I should have mentioned, of course, that I was also prompted to ponder the position of the sunset at different times of year by the Natural Navigator blog and Tristan's book.

This post was also triggered by Bonnie's own recent post Manhattanhenge. It seems that my house must be more or less aligned with the Manhattan street grid 200 miles away. How strange is that possum?

Tweezerman said...

Ah! Sun and the urban environment (or suburban for some of us). My post two years ago of the Annapolis Golden Palace.

Post a Comment