Near Totality

April 9th, 2024

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The kids were unimpressed by the eclipse. “When is it going to happen?” one of them asked me, a few minutes into totality. 

I mean true, we were only at 97% down here in Southern Vermont, just below the “line of totality,” but the other grownups assembled were still suitably moved. We all agreed the sky had a weird vibe today and that the air felt both too hot and too cold at the same time. The shadows seemed like they had been drawn by AI. The mosquitoes were biting in the mid afternoon in April — unusual, to say the least. And the baby chickens were acting mildly perturbed.

That, though, could have been because of all the handling. It’s true that my daughters spent the entire two hours of the “eclipse event” harassing the chicks when not climbing every vertical surface. At totality, they were dangling off the top of this play structure, their flimsy eclipse glasses and cereal box “viewing machines” abandoned across the lawn.


At 3:25, the air became chilly and the light was like a cold, low-wattage LED light bulb — unnatural, slightly disturbing. Through the eclipse glasses, the sun looked like a crescent moon hung ominously upside down in the sky.

My friend remarked “It would be a lot cooler if the scientists hadn’t warned us about this in advance,” and I had to agree, although in honesty, I would have been one of those medieval folks having an absolute panic attack about the sun disappearing mid-day. Without the astronomical certainty of what the heck is happening with the celestial bodies, it would seem supernatural. It still does, even so.

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I pictured my daughters’ teacher, Ms. Ruth, earnestly preparing them for the eclipse by arming them with straightforward knowledge mixed in with a little bit of folklore. They came home from school early with ornate viewing glasses they had fashioned out of paper plates. After, as we drove away from our friend’s hillside property, I asked my daughters “So, what did you think?” 

“I already knew what was going to happen,” one of them responded, “so, kind of boring.”

That is nine for you I guess. But as a grownup decades in, with all the experiences of the world under my belt, I am still capable of being moved by celestial phenomena, explainable or not.


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