Moving Experience

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?




On a Clear Day

In a little more than a week, at 2:41 pm on August 21, we will be experiencing a total solar eclipse. If all goes as planned and the sky is not encumbered by clouds, the stars and planets will be visible, farm animals may return to their barns, owls may awaken, and bats may take flight.

So in anticipation of this extraordinary event, visitors from four states are descending on our household to experience 2 minutes and 36 minutes of darkness in the middle of the day. I have cleaned every room, planned our meals, baked, shopped, and even created a playlist of sun/moon related songs such as “Here Comes the Sun”, “Don’t Let the Sun Come Down on Me”, “Mr. Moonlight”, and “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine”. Obviously, I bought plenty of beer, wine, and soda.

Dad and I went to The Columbia Visitors Center and picked up fifteen pair of eclipse-viewing glasses. I checked to be certain they were not counterfeit, which would have been disturbing considering the source of the purchase.

When you are expecting houseguests, suddenly you look at your home with a different eye. I realized my towels were a little ragged, and the sheets on the guest room beds were thin, so I replaced them.

I made reservations at some nearby restaurants, and planned excursions around town. So in our small way, we are helping the local economy.

It should be a fun-filled weekend. I am hoping that our guests are compatible with each other, but my biggest worry, which I cannot control, is what if the song of the day is “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head?”