For weeks now I have been preparing my daughter for the big event. I had emailed the school, with no response, asking them whether they were doing anything to prepare and view the eclipse, and if not, I was informing them that Maggie would be late for school that day.
I explained to them (because in Britain now they fine you if you keep your kids out of school for what they consider to be not good enough reasons, so it’s best to explain) that I considered this to be a very important event that would not be repeated for a long time (not in my life time if still in England at least!) and I wanted her to experience it.
These past couple of days have been very cloudy. Like thick cloud, grey, not rainy but very cold. I installed two weather apps and they both said it should clear up today after a dull start, so when this morning we woke up at 6:45 and saw how very cloudy it still was, I didn’t lose heart. At 8:30 I called the school to remind them we would be late, and we set out, after heaps of such morning chaos as I hadn’t experienced in a while. I was nervous, distracted, confused, clumsy… I didn’t prepare anything to view, the colander, or a pinhole viewer, nothing. I couldn’t afford the special viewers so I hadn’t gotten those… what I did think about was to bring biscuits and water for Maggie, as in the confusion I hadn’t even given her breakfast. Confusion given by what you ask? Nothing, just me. Everything else was perfectly normal, it was just me being like a me from some time ago, a me I was hoping was lost.
I noticed how much of a nervous mood I was in, like when you are going out to meet a new flame and everything and everyone gets in your way, so I breathed, took my B12, and carried on.
As soon as I was out, with daughter and dog, I relaxed. Even though it was still mighty grey, we were relaxed and in adventure mode. I got her to listen carefully to the birds, to try and blank out the stupid car noise and focus on the birds, and feel the temperature, which would drop later, and the light. We walked by the river and then towards BrambleFields. I had originally planned to go to Logan’s Meadow, which used to be my favourite place round here
but they’re digging and tractoring
so I thought I’d best avoid it.
We arrived in Bramblefields, said our hellos to the dogs we met, then we went in and out of wooded areas.
We discussed the birds and we noticed how the bird songs were changing, and some were getting quieter. At some point a robin redbreast started warbling so loud we got all excited for a minute thinking it might be a deluded nightingale (which we had investigated the night before, sparked by a story by Hans Christian Andersen, Maggie was fascinated by this bird).
As the time approached we did notice the grey clouds getting greyer, and the cold getting much colder. But not a lot of difference, not enough to really startle an eight-year-old who, after the pinnacle had passed, started getting distracted and digging random dirt holes.
I had prayed, not prayed to a god but prayed to nature, asked the sky and the sun to just please clear out just a little, just enough for Maggie to see or feel some difference. It didn’t even occur to me that had they complied, I would have had nothing for her to see it safely!
So we headed back to the school straight after. Maggie fine and munching biscuits and me, a little disheartened, a little low. The pinnacle was at 9:34, and at 9:45 we were in front of the school. And lo and behold, as I kept glancing upwards I saw a splodge of brightness in the clouds, and then, next to it on the left, there was a sliver of sun!! It was so clear, so incredible! It was so covered by cloud that (I say this but I gave no thought to it whatsoever, this is hindsight talking) I didn’t hesitate and grabbed Maggie and pointed it to her. She exclaimed a very gratifying “AHH” and saw it. Then I pissed her off by attempting to drag her across the street so we’d stand off the street, not on the street. A couple of cars must have seen us and stopped on the side, hopefully they saw it too. Then, in less than a minute, it was gone, once more covered by thick grey cloud. But it didn’t matter. I dropped off Maggie in school, told the reception how we did manage to see it, just outside the school. Waved bye to the headteacher who knowingly waved back saying “yes, I know why you’re late” and walked out. I was bouncing I was grinning like an idiot. I wanted to jump and slam down and punch the sky and bring my arm down, the American way, and say, really loud, “IN YOUR FACE!”. except I didn’t know whose face it would be. Who was I defying? Who did I just win against? I don’t know. But I was happy, I thanked the sun, suddenly all the trees and birds were once more my friends, as they always used to be. Even my dog Zoom was walking on a light bouncy step, in perfect unison with me. As I walked, I was vaguely aware that my left eye felt kind of fuzzy. And I thought, who cares. It was worth it. As we walked closer to home, the sun cleared just a little, again, and I could see a bit of progression. Between the branches, then I though back ah yes, that’s what they say, you feel you are protected by the branches BUT YOU’RE NOT. I looked anyway, twice, felt my right eye go a bit fuzzy later, then, still very happy and bouncy, I took out my phone and took a picture
and then filmed, but that was useless, it was just a bright splodge of sun. Then it covered up again and I walked home.
I felt vindicated, but why? I felt victorious, because I had waited it out, and I had had faith, and I had asked and had been given. Not by any god. By nature. I am not wikka, not religious, not a scientist. I am nothing. I am everything. I love nothing. I love everything. I interact, I don’t understand. I feel, I don’t think. I can be a lucid thinker too, if I need to. But why bother? There are books and people to record, to think, to pass on our teachings and what have you. There are organisations that do that. We, the basic people, as individuals, should just feel, experience, drench ourselves in life. Feel what life there is still around us above and around the cement and the buildings and the noisy and smelly cars. Hear the songs of the birds and the growing of the flowers and that, is the only thing that matters. Well, that’s what matters to me.
I have, thanks to this eclipse, been reminded of what matters to me. There were things I wanted to write, things I needed to process in this time while my husband is away and some friends are lost and some are confirmed. There may be more to understand, but this eclipse has really marked the end of any fog there might still be, and the beginning of Spring, blasting, happy, warm and finally fresh and clear, as it should be.
If you’d asked me a few years back, “Would you rather be constantly safe under a cloudy sky, or blind yourself a little under an eclipsing sun?” I wouldn’t have hesitated for a second. (Blind me! Blind me!).
Three children arrived and I became caution. I became fearfulness and treading lightly. I haven’t mastered those skills yet, but I am getting there. It takes an eclipse to remind me that I am she who would rather blind herself a little, rather than miss an eclipse.
Thank You Solar Eclipse 2015!
P.S. My ears are somehow ringing and both my eyes are now a bit fuzzy… so next time there’s an eclipse, you might want to prepare 🙂