Admit it – not everyone was as psyched about the solar eclipse as the weather people have been for the past week or the astrologers who waxed eloquently about how the eclipse was an opportunity for new beginnings to correct our individual and collective wayward ways…or the more scientific astronomers who were so busy setting up their gazillionth power telescopes and cameras as they frantically tried to preserve a celestial event they believed to be worthy of safeguarding for themselves and their posterity.
The sale of eclipse glasses, t-shirts, baseball caps, souvenir shot glasses, coffee mugs, dog collars, and yes, even postage stamps, boosted the US consumer confidence index by astronomical amounts during the time of the retail business cycle that usually struggles to survive. The massive movement of millions of Americans to find optimal viewing sites for the eclipse generated an uptick in revenue for transportation, hotels and motels, campgrounds, and the food and beverage industry. The solar eclipse was big money, Vanna.
The gods in charge of solar eclipses smiled on Columbia, South Carolina to make it one of the premier viewing spots in the nation due to the length of time for the visibility of the total eclipse here. People came from far and near to seek out the best possible spot for watching the solar show.
On a personal note, I really wasn’t all that excited about the eclipse. I’d seen the hype, the excitement of my friends and family, the media coverage ad nauseam but somehow I couldn’t figure out why anyone would be that thrilled to see something that lasted only 2 1/2 minutes. I mean, seriously people, get a grip. I became the Grinch that stole the Solar Eclipse at Casita de Cardinal.
Pretty, on the other hand being who she is, was energized by the eclipse via the enthusiasm of her social media friends and their posts for the past weeks. She took it upon herself to have a small eclipse party at our house by inviting friends of ours from North Carolina who were in town to see family plus the highly touted solar eclipse. Come on over said Pretty, and they did.
So we had a spontaneous eclipse party with an eclectic inter-generational mix of two older women, three middle-aged women, and a 15-year-old girl. Since it was a summer day and hot enough to fry an egg on our cement walkway, our guests moved directly from the front door through the house to our swimming pool in the back yard.
I tagged along behind them to be sociable but didn’t plan to get in the pool or stay outside very long in the heat. The wiser half of our little party jumped in the pool immediately while I sat in one of our poolside chairs to visit with the other two. Charly loves a party so she went around to everyone for petting while Spike went back inside to the cooler air. Spike is nobody’s fool.
Our friend Jennifer handed out the eclipse glasses she’d brought for everyone, and I made the mistake of putting on a pair to look at the sun which was perfectly visible from our back yard. The moon was just beginning its slow crawl across the sun, and I was transfixed at the sight. Hooked on the solar eclipse. I went back inside, put on my bathing suit, joined the others in our pool and spent the next two hours captivated by the movement of the moon across the sun. It was marvelous.
Elle and Pretty taking it all in
thank goodness for Pretty’s insatiable curiosity
Lisa carried her mother Vicki for a cool ride
Luckily for them, our guests had eaten lunch before they came to our house at 1 o’clock and had brought a cooler full of ice and drinks. Since our party was a bit impromptu, the best snacks we had to offer were two types of potato chips – one ruffle, one plain – with no dip. Since Pretty was monitoring other eclipse parties on Facebook posts, she was able to show us pictures of the elaborate spreads we were missing. Not to be outdone, however, she did have a Milky Way candy bar that she cut into eight pieces for the celebration of the momentous total eclipse.
The pool water was cool and the solar show was spectacular. The moments of the total eclipse were amazing. The wind stirred quietly through the trees around us. The stillness of an impostor nightfall was interrupted by crickets chirping and the fireworks of our next door neighbors. The temperature dropped six degrees as if the sun were trying to say This is how powerful I am in comparison to your paltry planet of earth.
Everyone at our little party oohed and aahed during the two and a half minutes of the actual total eclipse. We all agreed we had been witnesses to truly magical moments. Unbelievable, someone said as the sliver of the sun began to reappear and the moon slowly made its way beyond.
We were all awe struck with the realization we had seen something we might never see again in our lifetimes.
At this moment Pretty said, You know, I thought it would be darker. I felt like it would be so dark we wouldn’t be able to see anything around us.
Lisa chimed in with, I thought that, too. I really was expecting it to be really dark out here. Her teenage daughter Elle said, I was hoping for darker, too.
I laughed and said isn’t that just the way we humans are. We experience a miracle – and then complain that it didn’t meet our expectations. Everyone LOL.
Regardless of our human nature, this eclipse Grinch was now a believer and was grateful to have been part of the chance for our country to take a collective breath from the national shame of the tragedy of Charlottesville to experience the majesty of a solar eclipse with its promise of peace.
(images courtesy of Jennifer Redd-lovette)