Sunflowers and the eclipse
I work on the night shift now and sleep during the day, so there was something especially peculiar about being woken up at two in the afternoon on August 21 by my eclipse-enthralled family, specifically to go outside to watch the sky grow dark.
But there was my family, the kids in sunglasses, swinging in the hammock and eating pretzels (like old times), waiting for me to join them to watch as the moon passed before the sun in a partial eclipse on a cloudy day in upstate New York. My husband, John, who was in the grip of the national eclipse excitement, had made an old-style eclipse viewer from a Converse sneaker box. In lieu of “eclipse glasses,” this device worked quite well but was upstaged by another contraption he fashioned from a pizza box. These cardboard-box viewers, known as “sunscopes,” are pinhole, camera-like devices that indirectly project an image of the sun and provide a way to safely watch a solar eclipse. John got the instructions on how to make them from a post on Facebook put up by the Boy Scouts.
I confess that, while reminding others not to look directly at the sun, I may have, in my sleep-deprived state, taken a prolonged look at it myself. I have never been good at following rules. In any event, I was vaguely alarmed when everything looked yellow to me for about a half an hour. Gratefully, this passed.
John now says he wants to go out to Buffalo, NY, to see the next total solar eclipse, which is forecast for the Northeast on April 8, 2024. Portions of Texas, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania and New York will be in this eclipse’s path of totality. People are already making hotel reservations and road-trip plans. But I will be content to watch this eclipse in my own backyard once again.
It may have been the pinnacle of the summer for me, watching the solar eclipse here on my lawn with my family. We were all together, an event seemingly as rare as a solar eclipse these days. My son had just returned from his summer internship in Florida, and my daughter was home from camp. Our friend, Rachel, snapped a photo of us to commemorate this occasion.
Now, we feel the autumn coming. My late-summer flower garden is a cosmos of cosmos and sunflowers. The heavy-headed sunflowers track the sun across the sky. Their stems are snapping under the weight of their enormous blossoms. Fall’s colors are on parade. The pumpkins are turning orange now, the vines have withered away. The leaves of the poison ivy that vines the tree at the edge of my yard have turned a brilliant shade of red. The New England asters that grow alongside the golden rod are a super-real shade of purple. Today I saw a little bear, too, nosing in the berry bushes along the roadside—no doubt eating his fill to get ready for winter. His fur was sleek and black as night.