He looked up at me with big dark eyes and as soon as he saw that I’d listen, he started. His words came out of his mouth non-stop and included hand-motions.
“We just saw it! If this is the moon (and he held out his one hand) and this is the sun (he held out his other hand) right now, the moon moved right in front of the sun (and his one hand moved in front of the other) It’s right in front and it covered it up. It is an a clips. It happened right now. Right outside.”
“Wow. And you saw it?” I asked with interested eyes.
“I wore these glasses and I saw it!” he responded with a big grin.
I turned to his mother and said, “You are doing a great job. He is a budding scientist for sure.”
After that exchanged I decided that instead of being alone to watch this event, I’d drive to my daughter, Anne’s camp and share my glasses with her and watch with the other campers.
As I made the trek to South Arlington, I was listening to the live stream of the 2017 Solar Eclipse. The radio announcer was checking in from station to station from Oregon to Kansas to Tennessee and finally to South Carolina. The folks in Oregon cheered and then got very quiet at the moment of totality. Not really great radio. The folks in Kansas were annoyed. It was raining on their gathering. As I drove, I’d tried out my glasses shared by my good friend and great scientist Fran. The day before I was wondering if I was being silly to drive into DC to retrieve glasses from her. Yet, at the first stop light, I placed the glasses on and looked up. WOW – how cool. It was just as that little boy described.
Once at the camp, I sat on the steps outside and Anne texted me that she was bringing her theater campers out in a few minutes. I sat and watched. Another women came and sat by me and I insisted she take a look with my glasses as she didn’t have a pair. For the next 10 minutes, we shared the glasses. Then another mom came with 2 boys. They had glasses and also cereal boxes. The mom also had signs that read My First Solar Eclipse. The boys dutifully stood holding the sign and allowed their picture to be taken. She then pulled out 3 balls. A yellow ball, a little bigger than a baseball, and smaller balls, one blue and one white. She held them and described what was happening. The boys, about 6 or 7 years old seemed to just want to play with the balls and kept asking when they could go get a snack. Despite these boys not being quite as enthusiastic about the cosmic event occurring overhead, I also thought this mom was doing a great job to raise scientists.
Then the camp class came out. Anne and I shared my glasses as all the campers seemed to come equipped with a pair. After about 15 minutes, we heard thunder and next, a cloud started to move toward our free show. But it was great while it lasted!
Earlier today I read a blog post about another person’s eclipse story. It involved waiting in a long line to get glasses. But her story really was about interacting with the older couple in front of her in that line and with the little girl behind her who told her all about her newly lost tooth. I left this comment on that blog post:
“Yesterday’s eclipse brought people out into the community to interact. Where does community meet to talk, hear about the tooth fairy and share in person, now in the 21st century? I keep wondering about this. Your story reminds me of the importance of shared events and community.”
A week ago Monday, August 21, 2017 was my first remembrance of an eclipse. I do hope to have this experience again. Either way, though, I will continue to seek out opportunities to share events with others in my community.
Notice the eclipse-shaped shadows through the leaves. And the puffy rain cloud rolling in. And the sun through my dining room window once back home. This event was hard to photograph but will stay with me! I’m saving my glasses to use with the next one!