After weeks of planning the day is here. Up early I checked off my list.
Eclipse glasses – check
Picnic basket packed – check
Coolers packed with beer, sodas and lots of ice – check
Extra towels, tee shirts, bug spray and sun screen – check
Gas tanks on the boat filled – check.
With all that done my husband and I climb into the mini-van for the drive to the marina, usually about ten minutes away and, wonders never cease, only a ten minute drive today. Arriving at the marina another near miracle, an empty parking place only a few steps from the ramp to our boat. As we started out of the marina to the main lake the weather was about as good as it gets mid August, a little hot with a little breeze and only the occasional puffy white cloud here and there. Motoring down the lake toward our destination the water had hardly a ripple and when we got into the bay our favorite spot was vacant! We had our choice of places to beach the pontoon with only a handful of other pontoons pulled in to the shore and none of those close to our chosen piece of shaded sandy gravel (or maybe better defined as gravely sand).
We unloaded the coolers, picnic basket, chairs, beach blanket, foldup chairs and portable radio onto the shore and the husband took off in the pontoon to pick up the grand kids while I got organized and then sat down to read the newspaper for a few minutes. When he returns we have the only disappointment of the day; our daughter was not feeling well enough to come out on the lake with us for the day. COPD chooses the worst damn times to act up.
As soon as we had secured the boat we began passing out the glasses and making sandwiches. The grandkids and their dates kept us company and we all began watching the sky, waiting for the first little crescent to appear at the west side of the sun. After a couple of beers (a time measurement used at picnics) there it was. Just about that same time an unusual thing happened. All the boats in the bay stopped running back and forth. No one was zipping along on a sky doo, no one was water skiing and no one was squealing on a towable behind a boat. Everyone was looking up.
Now an eclipse takes a while and it appears to happen slowly from our earthly vantage point so for the next little while activity increased then decreased as people looked up, then took a break to get a snack or a drink or just rest the neck from all that sky viewing and then looked up again. And then, brightness became less bright and more like an approaching storm then more like the sky just before the sun breaks the horizon at dawn then, wow! Twilight in the middle of the day. A strange not quiet night but for sure not day darkness and the sun through the glasses a black ball with the tiniest thin line of light around the edge. Taking the glasses off for the oh so short totality the trees seemed charcoal grey instead of green and the shadows deep and dark. The water took on a sheen like black satin and I could briefly hear crickets in the woods. All of us were awe struck.
I feel certain that this is a once in a lifetime event for me. It is not likely that I will be living under the totality of a solar eclipse again before I die and neither is it likely that if I am around to see another that I would share it with my grandson and granddaughter and their significant others under a clear sky floating in refreshing water with a perfectly chilled beer.
It’s all good.