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Another Day in the Country

Eclipsed by Mother Nature

© Another Day in the Country

“You’ve got to be home in time to see the eclipse,” my sister said when I announced my travel plans. “This is a really big deal,” she went on, “and I’ve planned this excursion to Lincoln, Nebraska.”

Well, I did know there was an eclipse happening, but I didn’t think it was a really big deal. I’d been dwelling all summer in a in a California world where the Adventures of Zelda reigned and there was no television news available, and rarely did I even see a newspaper. I was out of the loop!

So, I changed my tickets, paid a lot more money, and got home in time for the eclipse that was due to sweep the Midwest. After all, it has been quite a long time since news in the heartland eclipsed what was happening elsewhere.

“Furthermore, it’s part of your birthday celebration,” my sister went on, “and something you’ll never see again in your lifetime.” She was right!

We got up early Monday, packed the car with enough supplies to carry us halfway back to California in a covered wagon train, and set out for Lincoln. We were prepared!

The prairie was beautiful, as always. Wide-open vistas over green pastures and even greener fields of soybeans and corn greeted us at every turn. The sun peeked out at us like a shy bride with too many veils as we rolled along the road.

The weather forecast a few days ago had proclaimed Lincoln to be “clear and sunny,” just the kind of weather you wanted for eclipse viewing.

However, by the time Sunday evening rolled around, a whole bunch of moisture had left the Pacific coast and was rolling into Nebraska.

My grandson was excited about the eclipse because his Dad was pulling him out of school for a trek to an airport down the coast where they were going to see this phenomenon. If it doesn’t work out for him to see this rare occurrence, he has a couple more chances in his lifetime. I’ve used up all of mine already.

A friend of ours in Portland, Oregon, had sent special eclipse glasses (approved by NASA) for our viewing safety. She said they’d sold out several times at their local stores and she was lucky to get these. Another friend had decided to try her luck at viewing the eclipse from Kansas City with her family there. We kept track of everyone’s progress as we drove.

When we went through Beatrice, Nebraska, there was already a traffic jam, with long lines of cars coming out of Lincoln and excited local cops directing all this unusual traffic.

Kids were out of school in special bright yellow T-shirts, lining the streets hours in advance of the 12:30 p.m. deadline. On another corner there were ardent believers advertising an “Encounter with Jesus” with Bibles and banners.

We drove through town and stopped about 20 miles this side of Lincoln on a little country road with a wide open view and very few folk around.

The sun was shining. We opened the car doors, stretched our legs, and settled in to wait for Mother Nature to do her thing, blacking out the sun in Biblical proportions that would have sent early inhabitants of Earth to their knees in desperation and fear, begging forgiveness from any higher power they believed in.

We saw cars go by from North and South Dakota, Colorado, Massachusetts, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Washington state. Really? Why didn’t you just drive down to Portland? It’s closer. Texas, Iowa, Wyoming, Kansas, Oklahoma, even Florida folk drove by.

Then a young man from Minnesota pulled up across the road. He smiled and waved like we were already friends. He told us he’d just driven eight hours.

“My Dad told me he’d seen an eclipse once and that I shouldn’t miss this,” he said.

The clouds had begun to roll in, seriously. Our new friend, Sean from Minnesota, was listening to a podcast with second-by-second descriptions of this phenomena and he was full of information! We knew the exact second the sun was completely covered. We saw this 360-degree sunset over the Nebraska plains, which was beautiful.

We gave Sean a pair of our special glasses because he’d only brought welding goggles. Jess said Marion County Department of Health wasn’t recommending them, and said we were heading into Lincoln for a bit before heading home. Everywhere above us were clouds, clouds, and more clouds.

A little further down the road, Mother Nature pulled the clouds aside, as if to say, “It’s another day in the country and I don’t want you to miss this.” We stopped and gazed heavenward with awe. Something we all should do more often, don’t you think?

Last modified Aug. 31, 2017

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