Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Snapshots: The Eclipse and Deadlines


Those of us who get anxious are likely to be very anxious at the thought of a blinding sun. Last week we cautiously awaited instructions about the eclipse: what to do and what not to do.

The media tells us that while the sun is still out, and the moon is slowly walking its way across the master orb, during the partial eclipse, we're to wear special glasses. But some say, don't look for very long.

Everyone buys the glasses ahead of time. Amazon stocks up, only to find that some venders sold them defective goods. Refunds are awarded, sincere apologies. Entire schools of children disappointed. Class cancelled.

Too much panic for this therapist. And it is contagious. Now we have to worry about our own glasses.

Are these legitimate? How does one know? Ah! Try them ahead of time. Look up at the sun before August 21. If you see nothing, you're good. So I do that, and to my delight, nothing.        
Didn't get the memo

There are other unanswered questions, however, more things to worry about.

Is seeing totality, when the partial eclipse becomes a total eclipse, really okay to view without glasses?

Some of us can't even get over that it is happening at all, a tiny moon, overshadowing the sun, still wondering how that works, exactly. Those of us who've had some physics, or art history, assume it is perspective, but still, too cool for words.

This question about viewing with or without glasses is answered during the eclipse. You learn experiencing it, because with the glasses on during totality, you see NOTHING. That's how you know it is totality. Take off the glasses or you miss what you traveled so many miles to see.

And again, what about that 3-10 second rule. Is that only during partial? What about Total? So much to worry about.

FD is one of those people who knows everything, can answer the Why questions that little children ask. Ask FD, we tell them. He will explain all, especially medical conditions, intelligibly.

Or he'll say, "I don't know," but will probably find out. For himself.

So I tend not to stress him when he's on a science mission, like seeing totality for the first time ever. This is a big field trip for the doctor, as it is for millions of others, but especially scientists.

Having heard that many millions will hit the roads to experience the big event, puts me off, initially. Sitting in a car for 10 hours, competing for gasoline at the pumps, water at the convenience stores, spending hundreds of dollars for lodging in a 3-star hotel, or a residence hall at a state university, isn't appealing.

3 men fishing
But he finds us  a very nice AirB&B at Lake Ozark, only about an hour drive to totality from St. Louis, where we first will greet some relatives. A home on the lake, a pier to fish. This is living.
before sunrise in the Ozarks

sunrise at Lake of the Ozarks before the eclipse

But before we even leave, there is so much anxiety. We have a place to stay, but still have to figure out how to travel. I check flights, find a cheap one one SouthWest to St. Louis, but when FD suggests the train, I pounce on that.  Amtrak is cheaper still, brags a large bathroom in every car (unlike the little closets on airplanes), a food car, sockets for electricity in each row.

We'll rent a car when we get there.

But there isn't a car to be found in St. Louis. Thankfully, my b-i-l has an extra.

We take advantage, eat our hearts out with the relatives, then head out to the Ozarks, hoping for light traffic.

It is amazingly light (this is Sunday, the day before the eclipse), a good sign. There in a few hours, we meet up with my daughter and her family, settle in. We're set to chase the eclipse tomorrow.

When tomorrow comes, FD wants to leave three hours early, around ten a.m., because he can't tell from the cloud patterns where we'll find totality. He wants to have some flexibility.

As we get closer, he's getting very nervous, moves our launch time back yet another hour, wants to leave at 9, and everyone is pretty much ignoring him. He's grousing and grumpy, because no one else is in a big hurry. This is supposed to be a vacation.

I ask him where this angst is coming from. (This is a bridging behavior, asking someone to talk about their stress).
He has made up a new kind of anxiety.

Wow. There it is.
True. Thank you for sharing.

We decide to get moving, head out on our own, scout out the sunshine, tell the others where to find us.

We sing (I sing)  Bonnie Tyler's Total Eclipse of the Heart. Together we sing about a dozen other songs, until our voices give out.

I haven't seen the research on singing and happiness, or heard any Ted Talks on this, but there has to be an association.

Still, even with the singing and Internet radio, classical, jazz (WBGO), whatever we want to hear, this is stressful, because a band of clouds is covering the sky all the way, and the sun only comes out for certain farmers, not others.

And what about the dog? (My daughter has a dog). Will he look at the sun? Does he need glasses?
Deep thinkers have answered this, tell us that dogs are smart, have no interest in looking at the sun.

Ah, but if everyone is looking at the sun, might not the animals do it, too? I text people this question. No one can tell me the answer to this. They are all tired of my panic.

FD finds us a spot in Hartsburg, MO at Katy Trails State Park, lovely, and there are only about fifty eclipse-seekers in this tiny town, locals and nice bikers from all over the country. Katy Trails brags a paved train track for bicyclists, my people, too.  We file this information away.

Yes. The crickets stopped chirping.

Not a sound to be heard. And thanks to FD and his vigilant perusal of the maps and the sky, we see totality for the totality, almost three minutes. It is breathtaking, and just like at the movie theater, when people clap for the movie at the end, there are cheers and hollers of appreciation punctuating the stillness. All of us in wonderment, awe.

And some of us say a prayer, even though in our religion, this is a questionable practice.

Sometimes you just have to go with your heart.


1 comment:

Mound Builder said...

We live about an hour and a half from the band that was totality so we drove to a good viewing spot on Monday, took our dog, too. I hadn't heard about all this worry about pets. It never occurred to me that there should be any concern. My dog (and all the other dogs I've had) doesn't spend time looking at the sun. And she didn't on Monday, either.

I am so glad my husband and I endured the considerable traffic on the interstate to get to a location in a park where there was a great viewing area and yes, people, but not too many. There was a festive atmosphere. We had our homemade cardboard eclipse viewers, basically a pinhole camera that allowed us to watch the eclipsing process in complete safety because it was indirect. All of the other effects, the lovely eclipsing suns formed through leaves on the trees, were thrilling to look at. And the total eclipse itself was breathtaking, so amazing, and I felt deeply moved. People clapped and cheered where we were, too. I did look up several times, briefly, at the totally eclipsed sun. And also enjoyed the beauty of the colors at the horizon. The sudden coolness was also a pleasure. What an amazing experience!