Blogs by Hilary Hopkins


September 09, 2013 / In Thrall to The Green Flash

For years I’d looked for The Green Flash.  The Green Flash is an optical phenomenon that is sometimes visible as the sun sets (or rises) in a clear sky over a calm sea.  In all my travels I’d had plenty of opportunities to see it, but no luck, not once.  I asked my friend who’s traveled far more than I, especially on ships.  Have you ever seen it?  He looked at me in mild astonishment.  Well, sure, he said.  Hundreds of times, he added.

Oh.  Ok.

Finally, quite by accident, not looking for it at all, I saw my first Green Flash while looking through binoculars at a distant ship at sunset.

And you know what?  It’s not a flash at all.  It’s more a Green Puddle, or a Green Flow, just along the horizon at the moment and place the setting (or rising) sun disappears (or appears).  It’s gorgeous!  Nowadays I see it frequently.

Not a FLASH at all!  I had the wrong search pattern!  I was looking for, you know, a FLASH in the sky.  In fact, I bet it was often there all along, when I’d be looking for it in vain. 

But my incorrect search pattern kept me from seeing.  My eyes were in thrall to a word and the pattern it described.

The wrong word and thus the wrong search pattern, and thus blindness.  I tell kids (and grownups) at the butterfly garden where I volunteer that nothing in nature is “gross.”  The other day one of the kids responded thoughtfully, Well, weird then.  Maybe a more productive search pattern.

Check your search patterns, when traveling out of your house.  Maybe they are keeping you from seeing a gorgeous Green Flash.


  • Susannah Leisher 10:33am, 09/20/2013

    Love this wisdom. Hard to find things you aren’t looking for. Thus, pondering what it is you seek is important.


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