Don’t get me wrong, plenty of peak moments of my life have been spent in physical and emotional communion with throngs of other beings in the experience of positive awe together. Our high school basketball state semi-final win 1977. July 4th fireworks on the Manhattan Bridge, 1983. The Harmonic Convergence a few years later. It was a low-key meditation event, but there were thousands of us humming along with the planets in alignment that year. Not all that long ago, we sang with Coldplay and 10,000 others, that song, Yellow, with my young teenage kids all the way across a vast Louisville stadium full of yellow balloons before we grew up again and grew more or less weary of treks to see stadium shows. Election night 2008. The Cubs win last year–OK, those last two were televised throngs, but we felt the joy!
I am both lazy and an introvert. I didn’t feel called to drive the relatively short distance to totality, to fight traffic, to bear witness with lots of others. Not this time. I’ve thrilled at the stories of those who made the pilgrimage. I believe every person who felt something momentous happen when the world went dark , the stars came out, and the nighttime crickets sang at 2:30 in the afternoon.
Instead, I chose to watch the 94% show from the back porch with my dogs. I didn’t snag special glasses or primitive viewing tools. Having read up on how to create a 10 minute viewer with a shoe box, scissors, foil and a pin, I passed on that, and the colander viewer concept too, and just decided that the leaves on the many trees in my yard, might make a lovely celestial showing on the ground if the skies cooperated. They did.
I’ve been drawing a bit again, after a 40 year hiatus, so yesterday in the hour and a half I spent simply watching for what might transpire, I doodled and took notes in the run-up. I chased the dogs inside when I noticed their restless energy distracting me. They fell asleep and missed the rest.
Next I noticed the light around me turned Technicolor –hyper vivid. I regretted the limitations of a black, fine point marker. (Not to mention my drawing skills–but hey, the practice kept me in the moment, more or less).
My cheeks begin to tingle, my arms, then my legs, then I felt a weightiness in my head. Had I been stung by a bee? Was I having an allergic reaction? Could I have been touched by something more cosmic? I noticed all the dark shadows, the bright pink, purple, blue sky splashes, the birds and bugs quieting, I swear they did—mourning doves practically nestling at my feet as if turning in for the night. I noticed how much I missed having young children around to filter the wonder with, the younger me who would surely have nabbed a pair of approved glasses, or made the view finder, or hauled out the colander, set up “stations” for different vantage points.
The nostalgia was fleeting. All of the sudden, the ground at my feet began to flutter with hundreds of crescent suns. In that moment my own childself emerged, filled with wildness and mystery. “COOL!” The word escaped my mouth from my deepest belly place. For 7 minutes I walked as if in a dream around the outside of my house. I snapped pictures of the wavering crescents, tried to shoot a video but erased it accidentally, (probable punishment for losing focus on what my own eyes could behold before the moment passed). I didn’t see the perfect alignment of our moon covering up our sun, but I saw fairy phenomenon , as the light moved and the air cooled. It was the trembling, temporary, haunting magic that has made humans wonder for millennia about the secret signs of shadows and light.
My photos are like many pictures we’ve now seen since yesterday…from those of us using the leaves as viewfinders. But the primitive sketches I made make me smile. The kid inside of me was wandering aimlessly alone but happy through the hours of Eclipse day. Poised. Waiting for and finding with delight both sun and moon at the ground at my feet dancing together.
BLR For the Poplar Grove Muse 2/22/17