Wow! That was amazing! I’ve never seen anything like that in my life.
These phrases were probably uttered by millions this past Monday during America’s Solar Eclipse. My husband and I were thrilled to be able to visit our son in Nashville, in the zone of totality. I have to admit, we had the same reaction.
I’m kind of a celestial geek. I set my alarm to wake up in the wee hours of the morning to view meteor showers. I try to watch for the signs of shuttles and rockets taking off from Cape Canaveral and seeing the Aurora Borealis in person is on my bucket list. So, I knew that I wanted to see the solar eclipse when I heard that Nashville would be a great place to view it. Once our daughter and son-in-law set their departure for Scotland a few days before the eclipse, we made our plans. After a quick text to our son to ask if we could come for a visit to see the eclipse (and him), plane tickets were purchased.
The timing was perfect. The excitement and anticipation of viewing this once-in-a-lifetime event helped ease the sting of our daughter’s move to Scotland.
Nashville was hopping, bursting at the seams with out-of-town visitors. We heard that hotel rooms were sold out. Thankfully, we were able to stay with our son at his condo.
The morning of the eclipse, we walked to a nearby coffee shop. Several of the items on the menu were sold out, including the peach waffles that caught my eye. By the time we made it to the front of the line, all of the breakfast items were gone. My husband and I managed to snag the last chocolate covered doughnut to share.
We walked a few blocks to the baseball stadium. It was only mid-morning but we could feel the sweat trickling down our backs from the sweltering Nashville heat. There was a long line of visitors waiting in line to get into the stadium. Finally, they let us in. We found seats in the shade to cool off and listen to the program. The plan was to go out into the open once the eclipse began.
It was very exciting. Lots of people, music playing and the smells of a typical baseball game. We viewed the eclipse through our official eclipse viewing glasses. I didn’t notice a remarkable difference until about ten minutes before the total eclipse. At that point, the sky began to look noticeably different. My son and I thought it looked as if you were viewing the world through polarized glasses.
I have never witnessed a total eclipse so I was not sure what to expect. I spend a great deal of time at the beach and I have seen hundreds of sunsets. I thought the eclipse might be something like that. I was wrong.
As soon as the moon covered the sun, it was almost like a switch was turned. It got dark suddenly. It wasn’t pitch dark where we were, but like a winter evening. The air was immediately cooler and I heard crickets chirping. The Nashville skyline lit up. It was beautiful.
Then, about two and a half minutes later, the moon moved revealing a brilliantly bright sliver of the sun and just like that, it was daylight again. It was awe inspiring.
I was struck by how quickly the temperature heated up. The sun was not fully exposed but you could definitely feel the heat. It was amazing to think that just a sliver of the sun could produce so much heat.
We left the stadium and walked back home knowing we had indeed experienced something significant. My son and I discussed how terrifying a total eclipse must have been to the ancients who did not have the same knowledge of the solar system that we do today.
The best thing about this experience is that we were able to share it with our son. He is almost thirty, well into his career. Carefree days of youth and college are a memory. I loved sharing the awe and amazement of the solar eclipse with him. It will forever be one of those stories that begins with “remember that time when”.
As we walked back to his condo, talking about the experience, my mind drifted back twenty-six years. I can still visualize the evening — me, my husband and our little boy, walking through the mall the night before his baby sister was to be born. There was a poignancy to the moment, the final few hours of our family of three. Don’t get me wrong, we were excited to be welcoming our baby girl but at the same time, a little melancholy of the change. Can anyone else relate?
You might say that our family had an eclipse of sorts that June afternoon in 1991. A tiny baby girl eclipsed a little toddler boy for just a bit.
Were you able to see the solar eclipse last week? What were your impressions? I would love to hear about your experience.