Total Eclipse of America
Finding common ground in nature.
The soft breeze cooled our skin, slowly the frogs began to croak in the grasses near us, as the skies continued to darken. An eerie calm swept across the field beds, but also a sense of peace and utter disbelief as our heads were glued to the skies. We watched and waited in excitement, anticipation, and wonder as the moon, moving at a whopping 2,288 miles per hour, began casting a crescent shape of the sun above us.
Monday Aug. 21, most of the country was not focused on war, guns, white supremacists’ acts, or what the President was going to tweet next, but rather one of our greatest gifts and mysteries as humans, the magic of Mother Earth. The total eclipse crossed our countries’ spacious skies from the Oregon coast stretching to the Palmetto state of South Carolina.
For my family and a couple of my friends we traveled to southern Indiana to watch 99% of the eclipse occur. We were watching the live footage on the Weather Channel from Madras, Oregon while preparing to head to our eclipse viewing destination. When it began to get completely dark in Oregon, we saw the silence, then screams, cheering, and finally tears occur from the crowds. The newscaster, Stephanie Abrams, was at a loss for words when the skies began to turn bright again, she quoted in reaction, “It’s emotional, I can’t explain why, but it is. It just took my breath away, the whole thing.”
The total eclipse for this country was something that was indescribable, even if you weren’t in a place of totality; you were still able to see the magic of the partial eclipse, hopefully with NASA approved glasses or a homemade pinhole.
What at first I thought was a day I got to take a short road trip with my friends, turned out to be an experience that I will remember forever. A day and a time our country became one again, people who didn’t know one another were sharing certified solar glasses with strangers, stopping along the street to look up at the sky, carrying conversation about how far they traveled to see the spectacle in the sky. Others parked in front yards, church parking lots, larger groups gathering in fields, and stadiums, with vendors selling food, and even custom made eclipse t-shirts and other merchandise. It was different than any other gathering or large event that I had experienced, everyone was here for the same reason, cheering for the same thing, and most importantly, there was no fear. There was only beauty, love, and peace as we all experienced the magnificence of Mother Nature together.
Fireworks streamed our skies as we began to notice the light slowly coming back to the field surrounding my family and friends. The crickets slowed their chirp, the humidity began to rise, and we still waited and watched in amazement as the sun’s crescent began to increase. The moon may have started passing us by, but the experience of not just our small group, but the masses of people across the United States coming together for the total eclipse or partial eclipse was unprecedented. The experience gave folks the chance to unplug from emails, texts, phone calls, disconnect from the tragedies that have occurred in our country and the world recently, reconnect with themselves, and most importantly we all found a common ground through the beauty of nature.