Eclipse of Bust


What I was hoping to see.

I woke up and checked Accuweather on my phone only to discover that the eclipse would be eclipsed by the weather.

“Mike, it says here that the cloud cover will be 77%. when the eclipse is supposed to happen.”

We were going to go Harvest Moon for an eclipse viewing party. Harvest Moon being the bonafide operating Drive-in theater for Gibson City. The eclipse is why we hung around at this city campground for four days.  It was the point of our whole trip, to view the once in a life time total solar eclipse. We already compromised on the totality now it looks like we wouldn’t even see the 92%.

“That’s it,” I said. I crawled over Mike to get up. Our camper has pull-down beds like in a pop-up camper. I am the one who sleeps on the end, so every time I want to get up I have to crawl over Mike. It’s a feat in flexibility which, thank God I am still able to do at 67. I headed over to my suitcase which was on the other pull down bed on the opposite side of the camper. I rummaged around for my clothes. “I think we should get in the pilot and drive south where there won’t be so much cloud cover.”

“I don’t want to go. Let’s just stay here,” Mike said. I stop and look over at him. He is sitting on the edge of the bed. “I just don’t want to drive anymore.”

“But we came to see the eclipse and now we are not even going to be able to see it.” Mike laid back down. I stepped over to look down at him. “Okay, fine. I’ll go by myself.” I go back to my clothes to get dressed.

I guess that was the fire that needed to be ignited under him because he got up and said. “I’ll come with you.”

“No, really, you don’t have to. I’m fine going by myself.”

Mike came over to where I was wanting to get at his clothes.  It’s tight quarters.  We can’t stand side by side.

“Seriously, I don’t want you to come if I’m dragging you there. I would prefer it if you wanted to come.”

He took me by the shoulders and looked into my eyes. “I want to come.”

“I hope you mean it, that you want to come I mean.”

He kissed me and we hugged.

At about 10 am we were ready to go. We packed a lunch, our chairs, in case we wanted to sit, our eclipse glasses, some beverages and of course the dogs. I got in the driver’s seat and we headed towards Champagne IL to hook up with I 57. Once on the freeway, I decided to call Joe, our son in Texas, to ask him to check out the weather to see if he could find a spot with no clouds.

I pushed the phone icon on the steering wheel. A list of recently called people popped up on the display on the dash. I touched Joe’s name and number. A phone ringing could be heard through the speakers.

“Mom, what’s up?” Joe asked.

I explained the situation. He immediately got on his computer and went to his favorite weather site, Weather Underground.

“Looks like all of the Midwest is not going to be able to see the eclipse. There is a low pressure moving east and north. All those people in Carbondale are going to be disappointed.”

“This is nuts.”

He asked where we were. I told him we were on the freeway south of Champagne.

“You might be able to find a break around Memphis.”

“We can’t drive all the way to Memphis,” I said.

“There are some breaks in the clouds where you are but the storm is also growing.”

“Mike, do you see that patch of blue over to the west.”

“Yeah,”

“Let’s head over there. Maybe the clouds will hold off for the eclipse.”

“If you can find a pocket of clear skies, I suggest you take advantage of it,” Joe said.

I saw an exit ahead. “Thanks Joe, we are going to get off here and head west where the clear sky is.”

“Good luck, Ma,” Silence filled the car as Joe hung up.

We followed the road to the patch of blue all the way to a little town called Windsor.

“Let’s see if this town has a park,” Mike said.

We drove down some quiet deserted streets and bumped into a park that looked like it just had a carnival. A huge tent was in the street. There were an empty tilt o whirl and a band shell. The area looked vacant, not a soul in sight.

“Pull in right there,” Mike said pointing to angle parking by the curb.

I pulled up, put the car in park and punched the red stop button to turn the engine off. We got out and looked at the sky, still blue. “This may hold,” I said.

Mike got out our chairs, the cooler with our lunch and set us up under a big shade tree. We had an hour till the eclipse, so we enjoyed our cold pork sandwiches, chips, and vitamin water while waiting. It was peaceful. A nice breeze picked up from time to time allowing for a break in the heat and humidity. We just finished eating when my phone rang. It was Joe.

“Yeah, we still have blue,” I said to Joe.  It was about time for the eclipse.  “Hey, Mike put on the glasses and see if you can see anything.”

I watched as Mike walked from under the shade, put the cardboard glasses to his eyes and looked up.

“Yeah, it’s starting,” he said. Wow, that’s cool.”

“Oh, Joe, it’s starting, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.”

“Okay, Ma, have fun.”

We did have fun. We watched the moon glide over the sun through our solar glasses. I took some pictures with my phone but whether the eclipse was 20% or 90% it looked about the same on the pictures, a sun.  However, through the glasses, we could see clearly although there were a few clouds in the sky.

No one was watching the eclipse at this little park which we thought was odd. Another car did pull up and a couple with a teenage son got out and looked up at the eclipse. They were there as long as we were their arms around one another as they gazed up.  At one point a car came barreling down the street and parked on the wrong side. A guy jumped out and dashed into the house. A few minutes later he came out with some collapsible chairs and sped off

“People in this town must be watching the eclipse from somewhere else,” I said.

“I don’t understand why they are not here,” Mike said. “This is really nice.”

What the Eclipse looked like through my phone camera.

When the eclipse reached its zenith the shadows under the tree disappeared as if the sun went behind a cloud. It was nice but not the totality I was wanting. I wanted to feel the temperature drop, hear the cicadas sing, see the flowers fold up, experience darkness in the middle of the day, get to my knees and have a spiritual experience which I read about on the internet.  Don’t get me wrong, It wasn’t bad.   Mike, on the other hand, marveled at the whole thing.

“Thanks, babe, for bringing me here,” he said. “This was great.”

He was right it was the great just not the celestial phenomena I was after but it was cool. We did see a big portion of the sun being blotted out by the moon.Joe called again at one point to tell us that he was viewing the eclipse through a pinhole in paper at Dallas.  He told me about the little moon shapes in the shadows of the trees.  I looked under the trees for what he was talking about and sure enough there they were.

Shadows that showed the eclipse.

I guess it’s all a matter of how I choose to spin it in my head. Am I going to allow myself to be open to change, the flux of life? We made the decision to leave Carbondale because of the triple whammy, see pre-eclipse events. We didn’t go home. From what I heard the cloud cover in Wisconsin was just as bad as at Gibson City. We did go with it and find the eclipse. I guess in answer to the question Perma Chodron posed in her CD, “How open are you to change?”,  for this particular time anyway, pretty open. And that’s a good thing, I just need to remember how allowing for change works for other things life throws my way.

Joe says for the eclipse in 2024 he is going to plan ahead and make a reservation at a resort in Mexico.  That way if there is bad weather he would stay have a vacation.  I told him he was allowed to do that if we came along.  He agreed.  So, I may have another shot at this but still, I will be open to change,

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