The Florida Gulf Coast is known for its spectacular sunsets. On any given day, especially on a clear day in the winter, people gather at the end of the day for the ritual of watching the sun descend below the horizon. In Naples, there is no better place to practice this ritual than the Vanderbilt Beach Resort and the Turtle Club Restaurant. Almost every day of the year, a small crowd of hotel and restaurant guests gather and focus their attention on the horizon just as the sun is about to set. With cocktails and cameras in hand, you can hear a soft buzz of excited conversation as people wait to see if it will be a good clear sunset. You also hear murmurs of whether you will be able to see "the green flash."
What is the green flash? Is it an old Florida myth or a real occurrence? Although these are good questions, it is hard to get a straight answer. If you want to start a lively debate among Florida residents and sunset watchers, just bring up these questions and get ready for the arguments on both sides. Those who believe in the green flash claim that on an exceptionally clear day, if you watch very carefully as the last bit of sun dips below the horizon during the sunset, you can sometimes see a quick green flash immediately after the sun drops below the horizon. They claim that this green flash is exceedingly rare and most believers will claim to have seen it once, or maybe twice, after watching sunsets for years. On the other side of the aisle are the doubters, those who claim that the green flash is simply wishful thinking that is caused by eye strain, excessive consumption of cocktails or that it is a simply a figment of the viewer's imagination. Some even claim that the green flash is a completely bogus phenomenon that was made up to haze or initiate gullible tourists and naive new sunset watchers.
Regardless of where you stand on the issue, the research on this weighty issue is delightful, and there are certainly few better ways to spend your time than watching sunsets. So at the end of each day in Naples, you should join the dedicated group of sunsetologists at the hotel to train your eyes on the horizon as the sun is setting so that you can see for yourself whether the green flash is myth or reality. You never know just what might happen -- all it takes is that one exceptionally clear day and your view could change forever.
As for me . . . I have always been a believer.