We have all been lured into attending the “got-to-see” movie, watching the award-winning television show, or reading the latest best-selling book, but then wondered what the hype was all about. So when I read the stories about the total solar eclipse which was coming to our corner of the country, I kept my fingers crossed and hoped that the rare event would not disappoint me.
Dad and I planned an eclipse party, and invited friends and family from four states to witness the wonders of the sky at our house. I assembled a thirty-two-song eclipse playlist, which consisted of sun and moon songs such as “Here Come the Sun,” “Blinded by the Light,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Let the Sunshine In,” and “Dancing in the Moonlight.”
We crafted a menu, shopped, shopped some more, and then shopped one more time because I worried that we would run out of food. I bought new pillows, sheets, and towels, because I did not want our houseguests to have worn linens. I baked muffins, breakfast breads, cookies, and brownies, and then worried about what would happen if the lodgers in our home did not like each other. How awkward would that be?
Each day, I checked the long-range forecast for the one thing out of my control—the weather. What would we do if the skies were cloud-covered or if we had one of our typical afternoon thunderstorms?
Fortunately, everyone seemed to enjoy each other’s company, the food was plentiful, and when we awoke yesterday morning, the chance of rain was slim. We watched the eclipse dance its way across the continent on television, and around one o’clock, we went outside and took that first peek. It looked like a cookie with a bite taken out of the corner.
Every few minutes, we returned to the yard, all the while watching the event travel across the U.S. At 2:30, we all positioned ourselves outside with our eclipse glasses in place and our eyes facing skyward.
The surroundings had an unusual appearance—not quite the same familiar color that we usually see at twilight. It is hard to describe, but something about the light was just not quite the same.
Then the moment arrived: 2:41 pm EDT, and we were allowed to safely remove our glasses. While I was expecting the sky to be completely dark, that was not the case. But we were able to see a few stars, and the surrounding homes were all dark. The moon appeared black with just an outline of the sun surrounding it.
The air cooled approximately 10-15 degrees, and then suddenly, when the 2 ½ minutes of totality was complete, it got bright very quickly and we could hear the sounds of birds singing. None of us was disappointed. I held back tears. It was truly a moving experience.
The next morning at breakfast, we researched the details of the next total solar eclipse in the United States, which will be on April 8, 2024. I suggested a reunion. Where should we go: Austin, Texas, Erie, Pennsylvania, Montreal, or Vermont?
I guess I have become an umbraphile. Who else is interested in chasing another total eclipse?