I really, really, really wanted to drive up to Tennessee last Monday to watch the total eclipse of the sun. But I couldn’t.
I had concert tickets for Sunday night and a doctor’s appointment Monday morning, and I didn’t want to miss either.
I briefly considered trying to drive to Tennessee in the afternoon, but figured I would just get stuck in traffic on the freeway with all the other people who waited till the last minute to make plans to see the eclipse.
The concert Sunday night was one of my favorite artists, Lyle Lovett. He brought his Large Band, which is indeed large: 12 musicians, including a horn section, a lap steel guitarist, a fiddler and a blues singer named Francine Reed.
Toward the end of the show, they brought out a local gospel choir, proving that they could in fact squeeze even more people on to the stage.
They played all my favorite songs. It was loud and crowded and raucous and uplifting and felt like a once-in-a-lifetime event. I didn’t so much mind missing the eclipse.
Plus, as Lyle said from the stage, “The eclipse kind of spooks me … Watching something I’m not supposed to look at… It feels a little biblical … I wouldn’t want to turn into a pillar of salt.”
So I stayed in Anniston, where the sun was only 95 percent obscured, and watched the eclipse with my family.
I had waited too late to buy eclipse glasses. (See above: poor planning skills.) But I managed to wrangle a few pairs from my son’s school, which had extras.
I didn’t use the eclipse glasses much. I’m a klutz, and I didn’t trust myself not to drop my glasses and blind myself. But I did take a quick peek at the sun.
Wow, the sun is really small.
Instead of looking up at the eclipse, I spent more time look at the ground.
My daughter and I took turns holding up a kitchen colander so that sunlight streamed through the holes, making lots of tiny images of the eclipse on the ground.
One of us may have also worn the colander on her head.
We poked holes in pieces of cardboard to make pinhole projectors.
My favorite thing about the partial eclipse was the crescent-shaped slices of sun that appeared among the dappled shadows under the trees. That was truly magical.
I decided to try and take an artsy photograph of the shadows. I found a piece of white paper and positioned it on the ground so that the shadows fell on it.
I carefully positioned myself with my back to the sun and raised my phone to take a picture.
I would title it “Eclipse on Paper.”
The rays of the partially eclipsed sun bounced off the glass surface of my phone and hit me right in the eye. (See above: can’t be trusted with eclipse glasses.)
I did not blind myself. But I did have a lovely green crescent-shaped afterimage in my vision for a few panicky minutes.
I’m already making plans to travel to the path of totality for the solar eclipse of April 8, 2024, which will pass through Texas, Arkansas and up to the Northeast.
I have a seven-years’ head start, so I’m hoping I can plan better.
That also gives me plenty of time to buy a welder’s helmet.
Lisa Davis is Features Editor of The Anniston Star. Contact her at 256-235-3555 or firstname.lastname@example.org.