Grandpa Vince would have had a field day with the “Path of Totality” that traced Monday’s historic solar eclipse.
By field day, I mean he would have avoided open fields entirely, choosing instead to monitor the whole spectacle in air conditioned comfort, an optometrist-sanctioned pair of glasses covering his eyes, an active cellphone in his hands.
“Listen,” he’d say as he strategically dialed family members west to east in the eclipse’s path.”Don’t look up. You’ll burn your eyes. I’ve sent you each a NASA-approved pair of safety glasses. Wear them in your home. And call me, once this thing passes, to let me know you’re okay.”
A wordsmith, astronomy major, and world class worrier, Mr. “Be Careful” would have been torn between celestial fascination and parental panic. We all think of him often, and reflexively check our rear view mirrors, adjust our seat belts and ease back on the interval between our car and the one in front of us.
Mostly, though, inspired by his wife, the indomitable Grandma Mary Jane, we think of him when cool things draw our attention up — a clear sky, a shooting star, and, especially, a full moon.
So, this eclipse really had us channeling the family patriarch, beginning with a moment of totality described by his daughter Carol, who braved traffic to see the eclipse in Corvallis, Oregon.
“Totality was a profound and spiritual experience! It took my breath away. I will always remember it,” she said. “I might become an eclipse chaser! Totally worth the five-hour (what should have been 1.5 hour) drive home.”
Just south of Carol, another of Grandpa Vince’s six daughters also reported on the cool eclipse.
“The Sun looked more orange colored than I have ever seen,” Sharon wrote in a family email. “It was a perfectly clear day here and almost all the images I saw online from places like Madras Oregon and other areas of complete totality matched what Dennis and I viewed. The only difference was at between 10:16 a.m. and almost 10: 30 instead of seeing a ring of the sun and the moon in the center, we saw a bottom sliver of the sun like a smiley face.
The temperature of the air dropped about ten degrees between 9 and 10: 20 a.m.. We brought out a thermometer because both of us said how it felt chillier and it did drop to 60 degrees.
We also saw some wave like patterned shadows along the ground and against the side of our house when it was almost the complete eclipse. There were no objects in our yard that could make a shadow like that so it was unusual seeing so many swirl like wave patterns for about five minutes.”
Molly and I watched the eclipse with my co-workers in the parking lot behind Winch Financial. Without glasses, the event may have passed without notice. But, with the glasses, we could very clearly see the moon slowly and then almost completely block the sun, leaving a crescent ring of gold.
I loved seeing the Facebook pictures of friends who took the opportunity to view the eclipse in totality, and those who, like me, watched the muted splendor from home.
I like to think events like this allow a brief glimpse into the eternal cosmos — a wink, if you will, from all our beloveds who have gone before.
So, I think of the way my mother in-law signed birthday cards in her later years, “With love from Grandma Mary Jane and blessings from Grandpa Vince.”
In that way, Monday’s eclipse seemed like a cool blessing from above.