I've been thinking about … the total eclipse of the sun.
Since I wasn't alive for the last coast-to-coast total eclipse of the sun in 1918, I thought I should make an effort to see the total eclipse that occurred on Monday. I would hate to have to admit that I blew off such a momentous event right under my nose — or rather, over my head.
Maryland was in the 80 percent range of the phenomenon, but that was more than enough to impress the group I was with. The cloud cover cooperated and dissipated enough so we had a good view of the eclipse. Several people from the Nonprofit Center on Clifton Boulevard here in Westminster gathered outside the building at about 2:30 p.m. Two of my staff had gone to Walmart to purchase the special glasses recommended for the viewing, and they got passed around for others to share.
I was instructed to go to the spot I would look at the sun before I put the glasses on. That was very good advice because the glasses made everything completely dark. I couldn't see a darn thing. But when I looked up at the sun I could see very clearly what looked like a crescent moon. The warnings about not using regular sunglasses now make a lot of sense.
I hope many school children got the same chance I did, and I also hope that their science teachers will seize the occasion to teach the science involved. How nice to be able to put the facts together with the actual event witnessed by many of the students. Maybe it will inspire some of the children to pursue a career in science and technology.
And, speaking of children, one of my staff members and her family are vacationing in Tennessee. In the chaos of getting everyone ready for the trip and clearing her desk at work, the fact that the family would be driving into prime eclipse viewing territory slipped her mind. Slipped her mind, you say? How is that possible with it being the No. 1 story on every news outlet? Anyone with children planning a trip understands perfectly.
I texted her (yes, I know how to do that) to see if they had arrived safely. She texted back, "Yes, thank you," with a picture of the view from her balcony. "Beautiful," I texted back. "Oh, by the way," she wrote, "I just found out they are expecting 10 million people to be in the area in the next two days because of the eclipse." Yikes! I wouldn't want to be in that crowd, I thought to myself.
Despite the ominous madding crowd, there were two good things about the situation. First, the resort where they were staying owns the mountain they are on and only allowed their guests to view the eclipse from there and, second, since they will be staying on for a few more days, they will not be dealing with the traffic on their way home. Let's hope everyone's trip home is uneventful.
Audrey Cimino is executive director of the Community Foundation of Carroll County. She writes from Westminster.