If you’re looking forward to the eclipse on Monday …

Annie Dillard’s classic essay is still the best I know about.

The sky’s blue was deepening, but there was no darkness. The sun was a wide crescent, like a segment of tangerine. The wind freshened and blew steadily over the hill. The eastern hill across the highway grew dusky and sharp. The towns and orchards in the valley to the south were dissolving into the blue light. Only the thin band of river held a spot of sun.

Now the sky to the west deepened to indigo, a color never seen. A dark sky usually loses color. This was saturated, deep indigo, up in the air.

I turned back to the sun. It was going. The sun was going, and the world was wrong. The grasses were wrong; they were now platinum. Their every detail of stem, head, and blade shone lightless and artificially distinct as an art photographer’s platinum print. This color has never been seen on earth. The hues were metallic; their finish was matte. The hillside was a nineteenth-century tinted photograph from which the tints had faded. All the people you see in the photograph, distinct and detailed as their faces look, are now dead. The sky was navy blue. My hands were silver. All the distant hills’ grasses were fine-spun metal which the wind laid down. I was watching a faded color print of a movie filmed in the Middle Ages; I was standing in it, by some mistake. I was standing in a movie of hillside grasses filmed in the Middle Ages. I missed my own century, the people I knew, and the real light of day.

The essay is in Teaching a Stone to Talk.

My house is in the path of totality, and at the moment we seem to be expecting clear and sunny weather. Crossing our fingers!

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3 thoughts on “If you’re looking forward to the eclipse on Monday …”

  1. Thanks for that. I like Annie Dillard. I frequently quote her when I’m thinking about time management: “How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. What we do with this hour, and that one, is what we are doing. A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days.” Not that I manage to live by this, but I wish I did.

    We’re driving from the DC area to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio for the eclipse. I couldn’t get answers out of my husband and older daughter about their availability and a couple of months ago decided, the heck with it, it’s a bucket list item for me and I’m unlikely to get another shot. I’d been thinking about visiting family in Texas in the path of totality but that would require making plane reservations for an unknown number of people, always a challenge. So I picked somewhere within I-can-drive-it-alone distance that seemed unlikely to be hit with a blizzard in early April and booked a hotel. Younger daughter is up for travel anywhere any time and will come with me. Husband is, as it turns out, also going. Older daughter could theoretically drive to meet us but has too many other travel plans this year to take the time off work. I’m starting to watch the weather forecast; it had been showing cloudy for Monday but is now showing partly cloudy, so I’ll keep my fingers crossed. As a bonus, I have driven through Ohio lots of times (used to live near Chicago with family in DC) but have never stayed overnight or seen anything but the interstate. So we’ll do a little sightseeing and visit Cuyahoga Valley National Park while we’re there.

  2. My parents flew halfway across the continent for a chance to watch from the path of totality – my mom especially is super stoked, so I hope the weather is going to be okay where they’ll be watching. So cool that you can literally watch right in your own backyard! We were only slightly out of the path of totality of the last solar eclipse to come across the US, and it was an awesome sight even so.

  3. Our forecast has gone back to “partly cloudy” — aargh, I hope it’s clear everywhere! Early April is a bad time of year for this!

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