Good Morning to the Night

I didn’t take any photos.

I wasn’t even planning to see it. I’d set the clock for five thirty as part of the normal morning routine, not out of any particular inclination.

Still, even after watching The X Factor and some Crime Time TV with Vickie last night, I’d eaten, dressed and got mostly prepared for work by six thirty.

I made (perhaps) the mistake of checking Facebook and Tweetdeck about a couiple of messages I’d received. Naturally, there were the tweets from people getting ready to observe the Solar Eclipse.

Last night, Vickie had mentioned a report from a local doctor who had recommended not viewing the exlipse at all; even with the heavily tinted plastic lenses that Janie and Nic had given Vickie as a birthday present in October, there was still a risk of retinal damage.

Plus, it’s been damp around here lately. The rain has been just what our lawn has needed, but it seemed as though nature was going to play a bait-and-switch on all the folks who had turned out for the once-in-a-lifetime event.

Still, things were sunny around half past six, and Vickie, awake but preferring to stay in bed thank you, told me where I could find the glasses. I went out into the backyard and found that the clouds were a good distance away from the Sun. I donned the glasses, and there was a chunk taken out of the Sun.

I went in and out over the next few minutes as the Moon savoured its cannibalising of the Sun, deciding that my retinae weren’t worth the risk of continued exposure. I brieflt flirted with the idea of getting the camera, but figured that if my retinae were at potential risk I wasn’t going to bugger up Vickie’s camera for the sake of a few photos.

Then I looked out of the front room window and saw that we were back in the pre-dawn again.

Once again, I ventured out and donned the glasses – but found nothing but blackness through the lenses. I removed them and there it was. Totality. A black disc in the sky surrounded by a brilliant corona. I felt as though I wasn’t watching something real, like it was a special effect. I didn’t expect the halo around the Moon to be so large, cast so much light away from itself.

Then I decided to stop thinking and just try and remember it. The air was pleasant. I could hear the odd dog barking. Few cars travelled the Bruce Highway. There was wind, but not loud; it was staying up high, scudding the clouds along. A few houses over, someone was talking; I wondered if they were watching it too, but I couldn’t make out the words.

I turned around and Sookie was standing there, watching me watch the sky. I tried telling her what I was seeing for some odd reason, and while my head was turned the sky brightened. I made sure to don the glasses before looking back, and the phenomenon of the Sun being eaten alive was happening in reverse.

I went back in.

Naturally, everyone was talking about it at work today; if a sales exec called a client, he or she would usually ask if the client had seen the eclipse. There were photos, of course, recordings of live streams.

But I’m still glad I didn’t take any of them myself.

Part of it, I think, is that I’m still trying to work the moment out. It was an experience I’m glad I had, but it… wasn’t transformational or epic or paradigm shifting, it just was. Maybe it’s not that it defies categorising; maybe it just doesn’t need it.

(As an aside, I’m glad that it was an event for so many. It’s good to know that we’re not so jaded as to be uninterested in astral phenomena, and I hope that it not only reminds people that there’s a whole universe waiting beyond the sky, but kindles the interest of a few more people in the nature of that universe, gets them looking not just up, but out.)

(It’s also good to know that the universe can put on a bigger show than the most extravagant New Year’s Day fireworks we can muster.)

Then, though, I don’t want to reduce the memory of the event to a photo, if you know what I mean. I worry that if I try and store it as an image, I’ll lose that standing there in the backyard in the morning, the wind blowing the clouds, the voices from a few houses down, the dog standing behind me wondering what Daddy was up to. I don’t want to bracket that phenomenon in the sky within the confines of a photo, no matter how high the resolution.

A funny thing? Sir Elton John and Pnau were on The X Factor last night, performing a couple of songs from their album of dance music remixes. We missed them playing “Sad,” but caught their second song, the title track of the album.

And much as I’m not overly fond of dance music, I’ve had a hard time getting that tune out of my head.

Because no matter what else, I’m glad I had the chance to say good morning to the night.

Are you curious?

What astral phenomena have you witnessed? How did you feel during? Afterward?


The Cairns Solar Eclipse web site

Elton John vs. Pnau