When your friend, who you swear was James Bond in an earlier life and his equally fabulous wife and daughter invite you to hop on their plane and go see the eclipse it is pretty hard to say no. So, I didn’t.
Sunday afternoon we packed up picnics, camping gear, passports and headed off to find the perfect spot to watch the world go black. For less than 2 ½ minutes. We landed on the mountain top airstrip of Green Trees Ranch just outside of Scio, Oregon. Scio, population 926, is the Covered Bridge Capital of the west and perfectly positioned along the path of the great American eclipse. Jan and Jeff, owners of Green Trees, invited us to join their party. Live band, 100 friends, potluck supper and lots of wine. We drank, we ate, we danced.
Total eclipses are not as rare as the hype for this one would have had you believe. The last one in the US was in 1979. The last time the track of the eclipse went from the Pacific to the Atlantic was 99 years ago (1918). The path of ‘my’ eclipse was only 70 miles wide, stretching from Oregon to South Carolina. Though much of North America would see a partial eclipse, astronomers advised “see the total”. They were right.
A total eclipse is a wonderful geometric coincidence. The sun is 400 times bigger that the moon and 400 times further from earth. But when things line up in the perfect way there is the illusion that the moon and sun are the same size. The moon ‘blocks’ the sun. Day turns to night. Animals prepare for bed. People freak out. In ancient times due to fear. Now, due to excitement.
We were excited and a bit hung over as we crawled out of sleeping bags and put on our special glasses. To the naked eye the sun was just the sun. But once you peer through the eclipse viewers the wonder of the phenomenon became obvious. As the moon moved in front of the sun we were surprised how much daylight still got through. It became chillier and chillier. It wasn’t until almost the entire sun was covered that twilight started to fall. And then more quickly than I ever could have imagined… it was dark. Night time dark. The world went eerily silent and cold. Huge WOW! Amazing and unbelievable. I felt a little numb and dizzy. Though that may have been from the champagne toasting.
Shockingly fast it was over. Daylight again and hot. Nature at its most remarkable.
If you missed it, the next total eclipse in North America is in 2024. For a complete worldwide listing check out https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/list.html . Add it to your list of life time must do’s.