I now understand why many people have religious experiences during a total solar eclipse. My almost-five son and I trekked up to the Tennessee/North Carolina border, camped in the Tellico River area. Plan “A” was to watch in a wonderful spot known as Whigg Meadow. After seeing the enormous crowds and multitudes of cars parked along the Cherohala Skyway, we started toward home and stopped to watch the eclipse in Wiggins Cemetery, Robbinsville, NC, away from the crowds.
The cemetery was perfect, even though a guy was on his tractor mowing the grass in a field nearby. We saw the spots of light filtered by the tree leaves turn from spots to crescents. We saw the horizon turn pink. We watched the sun become a cookie with a bite taken out, then a fingernail clipping, then a sliver, then, once totality started, and we took off the glasses… My son oooohed and exclaimed in gibberish words. I was stunned, but was overly concerned about him understanding it. Words fail here. Should have just shut up. Understanding is not important, it is an experience. No photograph does the experience any justice. It was over much too quickly.
Within a few minutes, reality set back in. Traffic was going to jam. We threw our chairs in the van and took off for home. Even at the front of those heading out of the totality area, it still took 4.5 hours to go 135 miles. It was more than worth it.
I’m planning for April 8, 2024. Northern Arkansas, I think.
When I asked my son if he would like to go see another eclipse when he is eleven, he answered, “no, I want to go see one when I am five!”
featured image Eclipse 2017 NASA photo