The Great American Eclipse is here!
I spent my day in Gallatin, Tennessee in the line of totality during the Great American Eclipse. Since I traveled far and prepared a lot, I thought it best to get there at 2:45 a.m., joined only by singing crickets and several other eclipse chasers who agreed that the idea of sleeping for a few hours in the car was far better than the idea of being stuck it what could be terrible traffic and missing the opportunity to choose a prime viewing spot. Clearly I subscribe to the notion of early birds getting their eat on.
So there was the sun showing up. And I could have slept another four hours although the motel bed was only slightly more comfortable than my car’s driver seat. This would be the sky that would host the big show. And cars were arriving in dribs and drabs.
Eventually, after car-sleep and twilight walks in the park, my attention turned to setting up. I had purchased this Sun Seeker app that tells you the sun’s positioning during the day. After the rocket scientist next to me helped me read it properly, I knew where to set up. I am not the best at understanding science, but I’m Ok with this. My not knowing increases my wonderment and awe. Logical explanations kill the majesty for me. How is that for a grand rationalization? I know it may sound like a kind of ignorance, but I need that wonder. I bet the Germans have a word that does what I am explaining justice. Though it’s not the most eloquent language they have great words. In English, reverent ignorance?
My Great American Eclipse set-up and my helper.
The scene was unexpectedly low key. With plenty of space and a communal feel, I realized that the stress bomb I thought this event would be was way off. When you come from New York you assume everything is going to be a sh*t show. It was a pleasant surprise.
There was even yoga to salute the sun and our bodies in the day long event. In a sun dress, I didn’t partake though the nap in the car warranted it.
Though I had a huge stash of Vegan Cuts bars and snacks I had been hoarding packed in the car for easy sustenance, of course I needed to see what they had to eat. There were a lot of food trucks but mostly very non-vegan friendly Southern cuisine. Don Miguel’s Juicery & Rustic Kitchen was there and they had an acai bowl that could be veganized and a veggie wrap. Typically I steer clear of a hummus and vegetable wrap as it is pretty boring, but I really needed some fresh veggies.
There were huge wedges of watermelon I kept eye-balling but never bought.
Then, the big show started. Within the pressure, my camera set-up had several issues through the course of the eclipse. Because that helpful rocket scientist came to the rescue several times, I managed to shoot most of the First Contact (when moon’s shadow starts to block the sun) and through Totality (Thank goodness).
If you look closely you can see when I had a longer break in the sequence. That was where I had camera issues. How surreal to see the sun being engulfed, to see it ultimately disappear. It was magical, to say the very least.
Then Totality, the brief time when the moon’s shadow completely covered the sun. I just kept clicking the shutter remote while watching it in disbelief. It was the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Though how many times I have uttered that superlative, this was much different. Again, maybe there is a German adjective that more succinctly describes what I felt watching it. Ehrfürchtig? I was so happy to see that my camera captured the glowing pink corona.
Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone. Besides what was happening to the sun, to see daylight fade to twilight. This was what felt the most profound. All the things we do all day to make an impact in our own little worlds, we are just little peons, scurrying gnats in the grand scheme of things. Nature can make the night start at 1:30 p.m. if it wants to.
There are no words. I like that.
The diamond ring
Here comes the sun
Other celestial bodies emerged.
Second Contact, when the shadow pulls away from the sun. This is when my battery died. This is where I also learned that I never charged my back-up battery. Dumb move. But the show was almost over. I felt grateful. For lots of things, but mostly to be part of this nature, so powerful. I felt shaken and raw, but had to tuck it aside to pack up the car and make my way to the exit. My motel room was only 2 miles away. I arrived ready to bask in the air conditioner and sprawl out on the king size bed. I couldn’t wait to review my pictures. I let the shaken and raw feeling return and celebrated it. Tears oozed out but because there are just only a few natural reactions that one has to choose from, even if it makes no sense. But it doesn’t always have to make sense.
This is downtown Gallatin, my home for today and tonight. It had shown me warmth and, having witnessed the eclipse here, it will be a place I never forget. In our shared experience there was an instant intimacy with all I interacted with. Perhaps I was sun-drunk but it felt perfect, like in Funny Farm how they hire the whole town to fit to an ideal.
The little town shut down during the eclipse.
But luckily it opened back up and I was able to get dinner from Southern Juice & Beverage. What a find! I got a heavenly lemon ginger soda and The “Trifecta” rice bowl, which was a combo of all three of their vegan rice bowls: coconut curry, black bean and lentil. Though simple, it was exactly what I needed. This is where I get my protein: lentils, chickpeas, and beans.
Thank you, Gallatin, for the experience of a lifetime… and a meal that will help tuck me away and get me ready for the next sunrise.