Last winter, during a faculty meeting, we went over the calendar for the following year, and learned about Things We Need to Have on our Radar. One of those things was the Great American Eclipse of 2017. The sixth grade science teachers were already jazzed up about it (they teach space) but the rest of us went "Huh?"
As The Enforcer explained, we just so happened to be in one of the best viewing spots ANYWHERE for this rare event, so it was decided that the kids would have school off, and we would be at work at an in-service. Because, you know, we got to get in those teacher work days. The fear was if we had school, it would end about the time buses started rolling and traffic was a concern.
That was in January. By June all anyone could talk about was the Eclipse. It was at that point most of the country began to realize it was a very big deal. And by July, the School Board thought it might be a good idea to let everyone have the day off because city and county officials were predicting insanity.
Hotel rooms had been sold out for years. Farmers were renting out their fields to campers. The cell phone network might go down (because everyone was expected to Instagram their eclipse photos). Traffic was going to be a nightmare. It was recommended that locals get their gas, cash and groceries on Friday and then hunker down and wait until the Eclipse was over on Monday. Banks and small businesses were closed. Over 200,000 visitors were expected to the area.
And people were going batshit crazy trying to find eclipse glasses.
As luck would have it, I already had mine, bought from the local university. And when a friend from Virginia texted and asked if I knew of any campgrounds that might have a spot I told her to stop being silly and explained she could stay at my house. As her kid loves cats, that worked out great. And my nephew had just finished up his graduate internship and decided to stay a few days so he could see the Eclipse before heading to college.
Monday arrived, our picnic lunch was made, our glasses were secured, our very awesome Eclipse timer app was loaded on the phones, our lawn chairs were out under the big huge massive tree in my yard (it was hotter than blazes that day), and we even had white poster board so we could see the eclipse through some pinhole viewers and catch some shadow bands if we were lucky.
All I can say, truly, was it was better than the hype. In fact, it could quite possibly be the most amazing thing I have ever witnessed. It was also the fastest two and a half minutes I've ever spent.
What surprised us all was how fast it happened. I guess part of me thought that if the sun was 50% covered by the moon, the light would be reduced by 50%. Not really. It didn't really start to get dark so that you noticed it, until about a minute before totality. And then it got dark very, very fast.
And that moon, in front of the sun, with the white feathers of light around it....was truly magical.
We got lucky. We saw shadow bands, faintly. We saw the Diamond Ring effect, and we had the best time ever. And The Boy, who was 12, was nearly overcome it was so amazing to him. The looks on everyone's faces, the cheers and hooting we could hear from everyone in the neighborhood, was amazing. (The last time all the neighbors had been out in all their yards was after a small tornado went through and we were all surveying the damage.)
It was joyous, and awe-inspiring, and amazing.
And I want to see another one.
And I'm so thankful, so very thankful, that our School Board let us stay home and share this with our families.