Hard to say which was the most spectacular phenomenon Monday afternoon: the moon blotting out the sun or the event itself blotting out everything else.
For a couple hours on Monday afternoon we were all focused on the awesomeness of nature. Some made a holiday of it, ignoring dire warnings from the NCDOT about driving to the Zone of Totality. Some simply stepped out into their backyards when the time came. But we all joined in the experience of the eclipse. As a friend put it, “Facebook hasn’t been this politics-free since before there was Facebook.”
As the moon began its slow — or seemingly slow; it was traveling at about 1,800 miles per hour — journey, we dropped what we were doing and grabbed cereal boxes punched with holes, perforated pie pans, whatever we could improvise to view the rarity of the moon passing between Earth and sun.
At our gathering, at the Horton Grove Nature Preserve, we were fortunate to hang out with Dan, who brought his dad’s mid-century surveying transit, which cast a crisp image of the event on white posterboard. Our buddy Chuck gave us a pair of sanctioned (we hope) viewing glasses. Cool as it was to view the eclipse directly, especially cool were the crescent-shaped shadows cast through the tree leaves. As the event peaked, the air cooled and the ambient light dimmed in a way that defied comparison. From Portland, Ore., to Charleston, S.C., a huge swath of the country dropped what they were doing and went out to experience the eclipse. And, for many, seven years might pass before they again venture into the wonder of nature, to watch the next total eclipse visible from the United States on April 8, 2024.
But you, of course, know that nature provides a spectacular show every hour of every day of every week of every month.… And you have the power to carry on the enlightenment of the eclipse.
Timing is on your side. We’re headed into fall, a season perhaps best suited to enjoying nature here in the South. It’s cooler, it’s drier. The air is crisp, the trees change color. A stillness much like that during the peak of the eclipse settles in. It’s a season that can be every bit as spellbinding as an event such as the eclipse. But people often need a nudge to get out and make that happen.
- Take a couch-bound friend on a hike. Make it short, on a foot-friendly trail. Bring snacks and cold water. When you return to the trailhead, they’ll likely want to know when you can head out again.
- Offer to lead a hike for beginners. Some folks are hesitant to hike because they don’t want to go out on their own and they’ve heard stories about how group hikes often leave beginners in the dust. That’s not how we operate at GetHiking! When we lead a hike, unless clearly stated otherwise, our commitment is to the last hiker.*
- Talk up your adventures. Focus on how the trail leads away from deadlines and bosses, and bills and toward reflection, relaxation, and answers to life’s persistent questions.
Show someone the awesomeness of nature that can be experienced this weekend. Even this evening.
*If you’re interested in leading beginning hikes, drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org