Eclipsed

Like most of the US, we went out to experience the eclipse today. We weren’t lucky enough to score any polarizing glasses, and we weren’t in a place that got a total eclipse (we had around 90%) anyway, so we abandoned our initial plans to spend the day at an eclipse event at a nearby national park and had a little picnic by ourselves. I don’t regret the decision.

Without polarizing lenses, the sun is strangely bright against all the gloom.

It’s easy to understand how so many superstitions center on such happenings. Away from the crowds, the peak of the eclipse was eerily beautiful, ghostly, otherworldly. The mind notices the strangeness of an eclipse. It gets dark like sunset, but the sun itself is so high in the sky that the shadows feel weirdly out of perspective. It’s like someone put a dark, cool camera filter over the world. The temperature dropped suddenly.

For a few moments, nature itself went silent. All the daytime ducks and songbirds hushed and vanished. Most days I notice a little bit of overlap between diurnal creatures and nocturnal crickets and cicadas as the sun goes down. But today, as the sky darkened the night-shift took a moment to get the memo. It was the kind of quiet you usually only here right before a spectacular thunderstorm. I wanted to shiver.

It only lasted about five minutes or so, and then the chirping began, but it still felt mysterious. In some ways, it very much reminded me of the aesthetic in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess. I always did love the art direction in that game. What can I say? I love feeling haunted.

If shadows came in waves.

The eclipse shadows were also something I’m glad I had the opportunity to see first hand. A couple of people I talked to didn’t notice them. If catch shadows from tree leaves at the right angle, they become little crescents of light. They look like glowing waves against the ground. I probably have over a dozen pictures of them. They look like a Japanese fabric pattern I used to see everywhere. I’m just a little more fond of it now.

I came home and looked up when other eclipses are supposed to happen around the world. I don’t think I’m astronomer enough to go chasing them, but if there happens to be one in a place I’m hoping to visit anyway, I might make a point of going. Besides, the scalpers have probably given up on their outrageous prices now.

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