… on an eclipse (and more) nearly missed

That’s an eclipse right there.

Oh, you can’t really tell – in that the sun is strutting its all powerful self – but the moon is covering about 97% of her star power.

I wasn’t even going to head out to see it.

Was all… ‘Eh, it isn’t going to be a total eclipse here so…’ (yeah, like that).

My friend had been planning for weeks to head into the Path of Totality (which sounds ominous or portentous… something that would kick off a quest… like, ‘The Ring of Power’) so she could experience the Big Show. It would be the last total eclipse for Maine until 2079 and, recognizing that I might be less mobile by then, I considered taking the ride to join the tens of thousands of others who were coming to the area to witness the spectacle. But, for some reason (perhaps people) I decided to treat it as if it were any other hour on any other day (but for the strange light outside, and possible Rapture).

So that was that. I was going to walk Belle in the morning, then take advantage of the relative warmth by pruning my shrubby roses before they leaf out (a weeks-long project if I do a little each day), then do some writing. It all sounded good to me.

But along the way I happened to look at my computer’s clock. It was just a little shift of my eyes up and to the right.


Me: Okay so the eclipse starts at 2:18:49 (not that I did any research or anything).

Me again: That’s fine. I’m good. I’ll just keep doing this stuff that I’m doing.





Me: Well, I don’t have any special filters or anything, but maybe I’ll just take my camera down to the beach. I mean, it’s not in The Path of Totality, so how many people can there be?


The answer was some.

Maybe a little more than some.

When I pulled up, there were very few parking spots left. This is a rarity here, especially in the off-season. People were sitting and strolling about the parking area, as well as making their way onto the beach. Adults, kids, and dogs walked the sand and climbed the onto the outcropping that is Kitten Island as gulls (sea chickens) circled above and various seabirds fished for their late lunches beyond.

I suppose, initially, I imagined I’d encounter a few eclipse seekers, maybe a photographer or two among them. So I was thinking, ‘quiet’.

Nope. But, I mean, it was still not a big production or anything…

And then… and then I saw the bathing suits.


It was 48 degrees when I got out of my car, according to my car.

NASA told me that you can expect a 10 degree temperature difference during an eclipse. Ours wouldn’t be a total eclipse, but it was going to drop a little… so ‘close to 40 degrees’ doesn’t make me think bathing suit.

And I saw more and more people in their bathing suits, some covered up with coats and/or towels and some… not.

Then I heard someone say, ‘… the Dippers’ and ‘Yes, 3:00″ and “Eclipse”.

So I put these very tricky clues together and, using my Mensa-level brainiac-ity, and arrived at, “The Hendricks Little Dippers must be meeting at 3:00 to dip… during the eclipse!”

And do you know what I did not know?

The Hendricks Little Dippers dip… to music!

A big speaker was placed on the sand farther up the beach. A man in swim trunks double-checked it before heading toward the water, and I felt a smile spread across my face when my brain registered the songs that began streaming into the sea breeze.

As our immediate world turned from sun to shade, we were all treated to ‘House of the Rising Sun’, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’,’Bad Moon Rising’… you get the gist.

Just after 3:30 – the point of maximum obscuration where we were – cheering and whistling and hootin’ and hollerin’ erupted from the crowd.

Oh I know.

It was pretty cool.

At a certain point, it felt safe to aim my lens directly at the sun. I had no idea what I would see, or what might register as I took a few shots. I knew, for sure, I wasn’t going to get a super clear, tack sharp image of the moon moving over the sun. You know, one with very clean lines. But I thought I could grab something… maybe something cool, or special.

When I got back home, I wasn’t disappointed.

I love that the sun is on fire (well, because it kind of is).

I love that I can see the outline of the moon as it moves in.

I love that the sun keeps on shining, even as the darkness threatens, the effect was as if it were even brighter.

I love that I couldn’t bear not to go down to the beach.

And that it was completely different than I’d expected it to be…

Not quiet, at all.

Not empty of people, at all.

But full of expectation.

And laughter.

And music.

And celebration.

And humanity.

And the curiosities of the cosmos.

All of it.

Right along with the lesson that, just because you can’t have 100% of any one thing, it doesn’t mean that some fraction of it can’t be glorious.

Thanks for readin’.

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