(Disclaimer: This is the only in-focus picture I took. I was snapping a few shots like a wild child, but I did not waste a second of time focusing... sorry!)
If you had asked me a few months ago when the publicity about the total eclipse of the sun began, my remarks were firm and quite negative. "You won't find me there. I think I hate eclipses. It seems dumb to me..." I based those ideas on the fact that I was rather afraid of the first lunar eclipse I remember viewing during the 60's with a very excited daddy in our back yard. He took me out to see my beloved moon turn dark. Now, my dad was brilliant, kind, just perfect.... but he didn't mention the eclipse was TEMPORARY, so although it lasted only seconds... I was so sick at heart that my moon had turned muddy. I remember standing outside by the purple Rose of Sharon bush thinking how weird it was my dad was happy about that. Later we laughed about it, but it rather tainted my feelings on eclipses. Future solar partial eclipses were overshadowed by warnings about going blind and the absurd idea you could see by looking into a cereal box pinhole. I was not interested. It may have worked. I admit I did not even try.
Fast forward to a couple months ago when my wonderful, so much like his grandpa, son texted he had requested August 21st as a day off. I pondered that date and came up quite empty. Then he said we were headed to the full eclipse zone at least 70-80 miles to the south... I decided I needed to wake up and be "cool," or I would get left behind. I was lucky I hadn't rattled my negativity to him, so I was the eclipse partner he chose. Since Mom passed away, we both are pricelessly aware we are the sum total of our basic family... for a while, at least. I was not about to lose a golden opportunity to spend a day with my son.
I did some fun prep work over the weeks, buying the special glasses, ordering chipotle garlic sunflower seeds, baking cookies, and choosing my wardrobe... moon and stars sweater ( a bit HOT, if I admit it).
Yesterday we left the house and mutually decided to grab my dear friend Doralee, kidnapping her to go along. She was outside and not ready, but it took only five minutes for her to throw on a cute outfit and grab her eclipse glasses she had (just in case)...
My son had researched through the night on Sunday--- the weather, the trajectory, the traffic... We headed toward Ashland, MO, with no set destination. Guided by guess and by golly... and such a loving Heavenly Father, we drove around town a bit and then headed down a blacktop to the west... We spotted a church on a rise of land--- and a few cars ----and we drove in to see if we could join. My son had talked of nothing but the things to look for. He had asked what I was most excited about, and I had honestly (but rather disappointing to him) responded, "Being with you all day." Well, duh, Mom... He added a few scientific reasons to be inspired, such as his favorite (behind being with me, of course), the 360 degree sunset, the diamond rings, the accentuated shadows....
This church parking lot was perfect. The Youth minister came out to our cars and told us we were welcome, invited us to come in and get cool water or use the restrooms. He had an excited group of kids who joined the cluster of cars gathered from all over the country, all navigated there to that one spot to form an ephemeral group. One family from Oklahoma had just decided on a spot much like my son had. The dad took our emails to send us the photos he took through his telescope. I will share those when he has time to do that.
What can I say? The air tinted surreal. We greeted each advance of the black thumb edging through the sun with greater anticipation and exclamations of delight... but oh! in those brief few seconds of totality...that 360 degree sunset of lavendar hush... the total twilight at nearly noon, the sudden stirring of breeze and locust... spontaneous respectful applause mingled with children and adults saying aloud, "Thank you, Lord." We peered at the Total Eclipse of the Sun 2017, hoping and praying ourselves and our loved ones to be alive and well when it comes again in 2024. I am telling you this. It was a singular two minutes in my entire life with nothing ever really like it for comparison. I shared it with dear people. I shared it with strangers. I shared it with God, and I somehow shared it with my dad.
We left the group waving and exchanging wishes for safe travels. Of course, I sobbed like the baby I am.... I am crying even now because the overwhelming "darlingness" of life fills my heart too full.. most of the time.
We didn't experience the traffic jam forewarned of nearly a million and a half extra vehicles in Missouri... until we drove home to our own small town, Macon. I think we had most of that surge through our two-lane highway. There it took nearly two hours to inch a little over 8 miles. We saw license plates from many states and ...finished the last of my oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies, of course! We heard that several friends at home and even some who traveled just as far, missed the eclipse due to rain and imperfectly timed clouds drifting and blocking the Totality. I hope they see it next time because it is hard to describe and simply incredible.
Later my dear friend who writes so beautifully created an amazing essay, which he will share at a future time. I will only hint this much about it, but you will be blessed when he reveals it.
Motto of this story: Do not waste any golden opportunities to experience this life and what might seem to be "take it or leave it" moments...
Here are the shots from that kind person in Oklahoma.They are incredible. I thank him for doing this for us. People are good.
Whimsy and Hugs!