We left Minneapolis, Mn. at a good time on Saturday morning. Leaving rain and cold weather behind us. Excited to be traveling south to warm, dry weather and the sun. We would have a day with my brother and his wife at a lake in northern Missouri.
On Monday the four of us traveled further south to reach the zone of totality. We were determined to see the Eclipse. My brother ordered glasses, planned out the route and times. We were on our way.
We started out with clouds and some rain. I was in long sleeves and long pants but we would find sun and warmth, we were sure of it. After about an hour of driving up and down hills on small two lane highways we reached Jamesport, a small town tucked in one of the valleys. This is a town living on Antique shops, farms and connections with Missouri’s largest Amish population.
We had stepped into another world. Cokes were fifty cents, a beautifully hand knitted winter cap was $4.50. We watched the roads carefully for horses and buggies, and barefoot children with bonnets, hats and friendly smiles.
A tip from the lovely lady in a candle story sent us driving another 13 miles down the road to Gallatin Missouri where there was to be “big doings” on the town square. They had received a federal grant to build a display to demonstrate the distance of the planets and the moon. There would be food trucks and music plus a whole town photo.
We envisioned a walk in display with 3d models of the planets, a line of food trucks (think big city food truck festivals – we were using our big city imaginations)
We arrived to find a “crowd” of maybe 200 people wondering around the town square, or sitting on lawn chairs, a few posters with the names of planets on them an an orange string that ran about the square. There was some radio music and two trucks – one that sold coffee and another with some sandwiches that no one was interested in. Most people have eaten their noon meal at home or had a small picnic with them.
It was not what we had imagined at all.
Plus the clouds would not release the sun to share this big event so one would think we would be disappointed. We were not!
We found – people who were more than happy to chat with us. There was free water, Moon pies and wonderful stories. They quickly wanted to be sure we had Eclipse glasses and we ordered a t-shirt for $10 from the State Farm man. Then checked the progress of the sun and moon on a ladies I-pad and then it happened.
Even with a sky full of clouds the sun and moon partnership peeked out from a small hole in the cloud mass. Yes, you could see the moon sliding over the sun. The area around us was growing darker quickly, voices hushed for a moment as the street lights came on, and the locust and crickets began to sign.
A brief chill was felt as we saw the bright blue sky to the north and the evening dark to the south of us. We stood in the middle with an erie light of dusk. The quality of light just before darkness takes over but it was 1:10 in the afternoon.
Two minutes passed and the light returned, the critters fell quiet and it was over. The folks packed up their chairs, climbed into trucks and cars to head back to work or home. As we walked away the folks from Jamesport checked in with us. The I-pad lady let us know where in the area it had been sunny ad who was rained out.
We walked the town not quite ready to let go of the experience. Our wonderings took us pasted the old town jail – a historic building since it is one of three remaining “squirrel cage” jails. (Another story of another time.)
The eclipse was cool, the feeling of being a small dot in a large universe was important but just as important, well maybe more important were the experience of people caring about strangers, people helping each other, sharing a slow way of living and truly enjoying a community event.
I also found great joy in my family. Spending time with my older brother laughing, sharing our own stories and remembering our shared past could not be beat. The two minute event that was barely seen by us due to cloudy weather brought so much more than expected.
We left today not having seen our hot sun but feeling it inside ourselves from the care given us by family and strangers.
Thanks Big Brother and Helen for sharing your home, and the fun on the road!
Couldn’t have been a better eclipse!!