First off, I saw a total solar eclipse. For many, it’s a bucket list item they’ll travel for hours and hours to see. What lengths did I go to see it?
I went to work.
As we were in the path of totality, a lot of businesses closed for at least part of the day, the University canceled classes (on the first day, of all days), and the schools had special activities outside so the kids could experience this amazing natural phenomenon. My workplace was closed for half the day, and while I didn’t have to be in until mid-afternoon, I got there around eleven. I’d planned to get a sandwich at a nearby shop and then walk to the little park down the street. Once I got inside, though, I realized our internet service was down, and so my best-laid plans went out the window and I spent twenty minutes on the phone with tech support getting the problem figured out and a work order set up.
I finally went outside. While my park plans were done with (the eclipse had begun already), the women who work next door were having a picnic in the parking lot, complete with special eclipse sugar cookies. They didn’t mind my joining them, so we all watched the eclipse progress together.
High level clouds were overhead all morning, blocking the view for some people in town, but they thinned out just in time for us. The skies darkened, and the light turned a bizarre silvery-green color like it does before a storm. The crickets and cicadas started buzzing, and the birds went silent.
A total solar eclipse is eerie and amazing and awe-inspiring all wrapped up into one unique astronomical event. There is no other planet in the solar system with a moon aligned in such as way as to produce an effect like this. And given enough time here on Earth, it won’t happen here. In billions of years, the moon will have drifted too far away for us to see a solar eclipse like these, so enjoy them while you can.
On a less humorous note, given the divisions that have been hurting so many people around the country, it gave me a bit of hope to see an event like this bring people together.
This week’s Radiolab briefly addressed the eclipse, as well as providing an update about a story they’ve been following for years. Way back, during the beginning of the show, they interview Anne Druyan, one of the scientists on the Voyager team who compiled the music, language, and other sounds that were put onto the golden record that went with the Voyager probes on their journey to the far reaches of the solar system. In the interview, Druyan describes how that was the summer that she and Carl Sagan fell madly in love with each other, and that she was thinking about him and the power of love when they recorded her brain waves and heartbeat. Those sounds– of Druyan’s new love– were part of the Voyager record, and she says, “Whenever I’m down, I’m thinking: And still they move, 35,000 miles an hour, leaving our solar system for the great open sea of interstellar space.”
The rest of the week was a bit anti-climactic. Work went on, albeit more quietly. The city quieted down after all the tourists went home. Even the weather was dull.
I finished one book, The Republic of Thieves by Scott Lynch. That was a bit of a chore, as the last half really dragged. I like Locke and Jean, but the book really did nothing for me. I’ll post a more detailed review about it later in the week.
I’m still working on Uprooted by Naomi Novik, which is a wonderful upending of fairytales (not any specific fairytale). It has a wonderful main character in Agnieszka and a fascinating plot that makes you wonder what will happen next, and if Agnieszka is really up to the tasks before her. I will finish it soon, so watch for an upcoming review.
The coming week promises to be a quiet one. The kids are settling back into school, the summer heat is starting to wind down again, and the days are noticeably shorter. We’re making the final turn into my favorite season, and I can’t wait.