233 by claycameras


We woke up bright and early to get ready for the eclipse.

Goldfish crackers. Water bottles. Sunscreen. Two cameras. Eclipse viewers. Purse.

We drove up into the hills, where we watch the sunset, as planned. It wasn't packed haphazardly like it was for the 4th of July, but there were plenty of people up there in long rows. We decided to keep driving, back down over the hills and into the valley behind them. We passed by more people, hanging out in the yard or clustered on the side of the road, as we drove through both tamed and untamed fields.

Our spot was nestled between a small hill and the gently rolling slopes of the larger hills, where the windmills are. We had a good bit of gravel to stand on, away from the road, and even had a few small clusters of flowers right outside my door. We were completely alone, although the occasional car passed by throughout the entire eclipse.

For a while things were normal, even perhaps a bit boring to some. I spent most of the time standing outside, photographing flowers with my camera and the eclipse with my mother-in-law's through an eclipse viewer. Sometimes I just gazed at the sun myself (of course, through the eclipse viewer). My boyfriend spent most of his time in the car, generally playing games on his phone to pass the time. He got out every so often or poked his head out the open window to look up at the sky (of course, through the other eclipse viewer).

Now one thing to keep in mind is that we've both seen many partial eclipses in our lives. I have fond memories of standing out in the yard of my childhood home in my dad's welding helmet, looking up at the partially eclipsed sun. We had some idea of what to expect... or so we thought, at least.

The half an hour or so, we think, before totality are almost indescribable. The light took on a desaturated, gray hue. It was very, very eerie and just... wrong. The closer it got to totality the more heightened this sense of wrongness and just, this primal fear was. With the naked eye, you wouldn't be able to tell anything was even happening. In those moments, filled with that inescapable instinctual anxiety, I understood. Its one thing to abstractly know that a total eclipse is bizarre and wrong and scary and to get why people in the past had so much myth and legend and lore and fear surrounding them... but to experience it? There's nothing like it in the world and no amount of videos or photos or interviews or research could ever show it.

My boyfriend told me to look behind us and the sky was a strange purple-gray. The horizon was a soft yet vivid, menacing yet mesmerizing, gentle yet fearsome orange. I have no idea how to describe the color... my photos don't do it any sort of justice. It wasn't like a sunset or a sunrise. Our primal fear told us to run so we went across the street. Why? I have no idea; my boyfriend suggested it and my ancient brain was happy to be moving. I snapped blurry photos as we crossed. I was so cold.

And then, suddenly, the sun was gone.

Cheers and hollers echoed through the valley; although we could not see them, we were not alone. Listening to those whoops and clapping was amazing. I could feel the excitement and awe in the air. My boyfriend said something. I turned immediately and the cheers stopped.

I saw the corona.

The first thing I noticed was the colors. There was a line of bright rainbow colors... I don't even know how to describe it either. I thought the corona would be plain white but it was so full of color. It was blue, a bright soft neon blue, and that wasn't the only color. I don't know if it was a full rainbow but the image of that color is etched in my memory.

I wanted to start crying. The only other time I've ever felt such awe was looking into my newborn child's eyes. But this beauty... there's nothing like it in the world. Not a thing. I walked around the car and took a video from one horizon to the other; you can't see the corona but the colors are alright. It wasn't dark, not like the night I thought it would be. There was light on the horizon in both directions, strange orange behind and soft blue yellow in front beneath the sun and moon.

I took two photos, both blurry, and just couldn't bring myself to focus or to even care about doing so. I took photos of the flowers. I looked up into the sky. I walked in the street. I stood by the car. I wanted to sing and dance and cry and laugh.

I know now why humanity has always worshiped the sun.

And then it was over. All two minutes or so. Gone in what felt like the blink of an eye.

The moon started to slip away so fast we could see it as we watched (through our eclipse viewers again). The lighting was still strange and wrong, but it wasn't so bad anymore. I wasn't afraid. Even the most primal parts of my brain knew it was getting better with every passing moment.

We watched birds fly past, waking back up. I felt strange and jittery; I shook myself out. I found a moth and a bee in the flowers, acting strangely. The bee was curled up and completely unresponsive, even when I moved the flower it was on. I alternated between watching, photographing, and taking videos of the bee (and moth) and watching, photographing, and chattering to my boyfriend about the remainder of the eclipse. We knew many scientists were reached out to the public to gather information about animal behavior and how its affected by totality so we did our best to get as good of footage of the strange sleeping bee as we could.

More birds began to wake up and flutter around. They seemed very playful, much more than normal, so I took a video. When I went back to check on the bee afterwards, it was gone. A small handful of flies, bees, and butterflies returned to the flowers.

Car after car passed by as we, mostly me, continued to watch. Close to the end my boyfriend asked if we could finally leave. I relented; my eyes were tired and sore. I kept them closed for some of the drive back but couldn't help opening them. Most animals seemed to be okay but the birds of many species were still acting funny. They were all flying close to the ground, between cars, skimming the pavement. I didn't get a video of it and my boyfriend didn't really notice it happening.

We hit a bit of traffic and had bad luck with red lights, but we did eventually finally make it home. I edited and uploaded photos, videos, and gifs. We ate lunch. I took a shower. And then we napped for three straight hours, falling completely deeply asleep with vivid dreams and all (something I rarely experience).

It was such a strange and wonderful and beautiful and perfect day.
Nice capture. We saw the Solar Eclipse in Cairns, Queensland, years ago. It was pretty eerie during the 2 mins of total darkness, but a magical experience.
August 22nd, 2017  
It's cool shot!!!! It's a cool that you had great day, and also a great time to saw this!!!
August 22nd, 2017  
Fav mainly for your narrative!! Feel I was there, thank you!!!
August 22nd, 2017  
Nice capture- I remember we were in holiday in Majorca one year and there was an eclipse. We were all sat round the pool then as the eclipse was happening it went so cool and there was definitely the eeriness you describe in the atmosphere. Love your description of the event Carissa- takes me there with you!
August 22nd, 2017  
Amazing capture! We had an eclipse in the UK about 20 years ago. It is amazing.
August 22nd, 2017  
Very nice :)
August 22nd, 2017  
Well done. Great clarity
August 22nd, 2017  
love your commentary
August 22nd, 2017  
August 22nd, 2017  
Great capture and interesting narrative!
August 22nd, 2017  
What a great narrative. It sounds so emotional and eerie at the same time. I wonder what all the animals made of it?
August 23rd, 2017  
Awesome capture, great narrative,fav!
August 23rd, 2017  
What a wonderful narrative - thank you for sharing your thoughts and fears
August 27th, 2017  
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