By Midge Pierce
For a brief cosmic moment last month, moonshadow banished discord from the Land. Through first bite to rainbow-like sunbeams, daytime turned into the unifying magic of total eclipse.
If you weren’t on the path, day turned to “meh.” You are so over it. Maybe you’ve sought asylum in Oregon City, mocking umbra-filers and monument-topplers with impunity. Deep down in your scaredy-cat soul you feared having a flat in Boring, missing symbiosis at the geek fest in Prineville or actually seeing another car over Santiam Pass.
True Portopians – ignoring dire warnings – sought science, revelations, sparkles, unicorns, awe. Around me, all were mesmerized. Dysfunction vanished in afterglow for hours. Toddlers, immobilized in car seats for a chunk of childhood, were perfectly behaved. Throngs of fellow travelers (eventually finding each other) discovered Zen in post-event traffic. Some abandoned vehicles to foot the final 47 miles back to Portland, yet nary a car horn beeped. Would that the world and family were always so.
I am no neophyte to celestial events since coming of age during Aquarius. Years ago I traversed four states for a solar eclipse wasted on youth and questionable substances. I know retellings are obnoxious. So for 2024, I’m only packing grandmotherly advice:
Close is not good enough. Between partiality and totality, an astronomer said, the difference is like a peck on the cheek vs. a night of nirvana.
When in doubt, follow NASA. A discrepancy in online path data led my group deep into a canyon casting X-file-ish shadows under dimming skies. Every step gained us extra seconds of silver-lined wonder.
Know to look for lunar snakes, Bailys beads, big horizons and diamond rings. Have Kleenex ready when coronas dance around cyclops moon.
Roosters, friends and loved ones nearby are mandatory. They will crow.
Do not question folks heading Southwest when the moon is racing Southeast.
Avoid doomsayers; but do carry a three-day supply of food and water.
Unless you crave endless amber waves of grain enroute home, ignore the map app. It will misguide you – and 30,000 other fellow travelers off the feast of highway onto 8-hour backroad gridlock featuring roadside attractions like lounge chairs bearing sketchy witnesses holding signs announcing the End is Nigh. Ignore hot potato children taking nature breaks out car doors.
Do not compare videos, share visions or start moon ‘splaining, per family dysfunction. Later, pound memories into kneecaps running Hood to Coast’s 199-mile relay.
Adjust expectations that eclipses melt ice caps, purge White Houses or forgive college loans. Accept that whether your experience lasts 44 seconds or 200, it is not enough. Too soon, dementors, climate deniers and flat earthers will again obscure clear views.
Finally, pass up metaphors but do redefine our tiny place in the world. Yes Portopia. Just beyond totality’s reach, your perspective needs a reboot. That observation another day…