We live in the beautiful Pacific northwest, and were blessed with a front row view of the total solar eclipse this morning. This was the second total solar eclipse I would be able to see in my near-40 years on earth, but it would be our daughters first.
I really don’t recall much hype or warnings about the first one I’d seen, likely for good reason. I was 13 at the time, there was no phone with streaming news-feeds in my face, and we were in the heart of Mexico, so any media coverage would have been in Spanish, and at that time my Spanish vocabulary consisted of “please”, “thank you”, and “bathroom”. So I didn’t even absorb heeds of warning by having the news on in our host family’s home. We looked with our welding glass, and I remember seeing the totality, but I don’t remember specifics. I just know my friend’s mother, Nancy, made sure we were safe, optically and otherwise, so that I could just remember the event, and not the fine print or retinal damage warnings.
We purchased our safety viewing glasses weeks ago, but safe was the last thing these paper things were making me feel! New recalls on unsafe glasses were still rolling in on my news-feed, and the news, until early this morning. Tony had to work today, so I would be the one to experience this with Mavis, and I was striving to be her “Nancy”, to just let her experience the eerieness and wonder of it all, without a care in the world about permanent retinal damage, because I was keeping her safe.
Mavis and I were up and out of the house at 8 to get our morning coffee and tea, and then planned to camp out in the front yard to see the big show. The moon started its journey into the suns path at about 9am, and I am out there, feverishly googling anything I can about recalled glasses, and cross-referencing the printing on ours. Finally I convinced myself at about 9:20 that ours were legit, and we started looking up. What an amazing sight! I was able to show Mavis the magical crescent-shaped shadows, raining down under every tree and shrub, and how the light was changing with each passing moment.
When it was nearing totality, we could see the tiny sliver disappearing, and we could hear people blocks away cheering as it became their totality. And then it happened, our sliver disappeared. It was dark, and we could see nothing through our lenses of safety. I looked out the bottom of my glasses at my phone and got a text from my husband, “Take off the glasses!!”. In an instant, I had to discern whether or not it was safe to do that, I had been so busy making sure these darn glasses were safe, I hadn’t ever thought about if totality was safe. But he’s been watching TED Talks, reading NASA info for like a month. Today, he was my Nancy. I didn’t make a very good Nancy for Mavis, as you can see from this comical video “Look for one second!”. A moment I pictured being like Journey’s – Don’t Stop Believing!, turned out more like Chicago’s – Look Away! Thank God for Tony, or we might still be on the front lawn, glasses on, wondering what all that shouting and hooplah was about. I am kicking myself for not knowing, so that we could drink in the whole experience without my worried barking. After watching other people’s videos, though, I know I wasn’t alone. Like Tony always says, I should have watched the TED Talk. TED is always so applicable. 🙂