The sky dimmed, as the temperature noticeably dropped. Crickets became audible, as bugs began to buzz about. The lake water rippled with feeding fish. Shadows became strangely psychedelic, and the awe of boaters and campers alike filled the air. The sun had been totally eclipsed by our moon over the United States of America for the first time in 40 years.
John and I had set up our lawn chairs on the banks of the Cumberland River at The Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. We sat down, looked up at the sky, and had some Jiffy Pop Popcorn as this phenomenon of nature began. We couldn’t believe what was happening. The eclipse glasses made it a lot more difficult to see than we originally thought they would, but that didn’t stop us from focusing in and giving it all of our attention.
It took well over an hour for the eclipse to reach totality, so we took the glasses off here and there to observe the changing environment. We got a little too anxious and started to count down a bit too early, forgetting how slowly the moon moves across the sky. I truly underestimated the precision required to allow for such an incredible natural occurrence. Just as totality began, a boat near us started blasting “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonny Tyler.
We took our glasses off, and our jaws popped wide open in sincere awe of the experience. It was a sight that will never truly be matched in my mind. We looked around and observed the sky, the water, the shadows, and the animals for the brief two minutes and forty seven seconds of total darkness granted by the moon.
Once the moon started to move away from the sun along its progression around the earth, we quickly looked to the ground where we had laid out a white t-shirt on the beach pebbles. We had heard online that immediately after totality ends, the sun creates snake-like shadows on certain surfaces. The white t-shirt let us see these serpantine shadows as clearly as we could've wished.
We had also seen that the shadows of the leaves would be crescent shape and resemble the shape in the sky above. When we got back to our tent, the crescent shadows were dancing all through the woods where we were camped. It was an intriguing effect I have never even considered before.
The experience of a total eclipse is one that must be witnessed in person. No picture, video, or description can do justice to the wonderful event. The next eclipse in the United States is in seven years, so start planning!