Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Me and my herd view the eclipse

Remember Lee Smith's wonderful book, Me and My Baby View the Eclipse? If you haven't read her work, go find it now and start at the beginning. She was an early writing professor and a mentor and her stories and novels are well worth reading.

Yesterday I was on November Hill alone with the animals. My husband traveled to the Great Smokies to get totality eclipse photographs, my son watched in Ithaca from Cornell's campus, my daughter was with her neurobiology professor on NC State's campus watching. Many friends took road trips to South Carolina and other points along the path. I have no desire to drive hours in traffic to stand in a crowd of strangers to see anything, so I opted to be here with the November Hill herd.

It occurred to me that aside from the peace and quiet of my own home, this would likely be the only time in my life that I could see a 93% totality solar eclipse on November Hill Farm with Keil Bay, Cody, Apache Moon, Rafer Johnson, and Redford. How could I miss that?

I grabbed my straw hat and my iPhone and headed to the barn around 1 p.m. I didn't have viewing glasses and briefly pondered making a viewing box, but decided to focus on the landscape itself and the animals and insects. I spent a little bit of time mucking stalls, tidying things up, which is what I normally do when I go out mid-day. The equines were all, except for the painted pony, in their stalls with fans and ready for some fresh hay.

Around 1:30 I went to the hay tent to get a few flakes. I was distracted by the crescent moons beginning to form on the ground beneath the oak trees and by the fact that the hay-barrow frame has completely broken. I decided to just carry a few flakes in my arms. As I opened the gate I saw this:

I realized the tiny holes in my straw hat were projecting the eclipse onto everything I looked at! I headed over to the picnic table to experiment. It's hard to see in this photo but all around the brim of my hat, tiny crescents of light haloed my silhouette.

I took the hay to the horses and got them set up. The quality of light was increasingly odd and eerie, though never truly dark. Birds didn't stop chirping completely but they did get much quieter, and crickets began to sing. I walked through the arena to the back field to see if I could find the pony. The arena at F, under the big oak tree, looked like this:

In the back field, grazing through the event taking place in the sky, Apache Moon:

Unfortunately the iPhone just couldn't capture the odd light we had here. I walked over and stood by the pony's shoulder. Apache Moon, named because of the half moon on his barrel, suddenly had tiny similarly-shaped moons everywhere I looked!

I was completely enchanted by my magical straw hat. It's old, the band has fallen off, and it is mishapen but it is cool and it keeps the sun off my head and face. And today, it became the best eclipse-viewing instrument in the whole world.

After a lot of walking about and casting tiny crescents onto things, I followed the pony back to the barn and while the horses and donkeys and painted pony munched, I sat on the bench in the barn aisle and watched the light return outside the doors. Keil Bay came out of his stall, stood with me for a moment, and then went to take his own gander at the eclipse:

I wouldn't have traded this moment for the world.


Matthew said...

A magical moon straw hat.

Love it!

Grey Horse Matters said...

I'm with you,I'd rather stay home with peace and quiet and the animals then stand in a crowd. Very neat how the straw hat cast those lighted specs.

billie said...

I had a feeling you would be!! :)

billie said...

That hat has earned its keep. :)