2017-09-06 / Editorials

Don Lively


Where were you when the lights went out?

I’m not talking about The Great Northeast

Blackout of 1965 that plunged huge sections of New York City into total darkness for over twelve hours and later had a movie made about the event.

Where were you during The Great Total Solar Eclipse Of 2017?

It was quite a hyped up event. For the cities fortunate enough to be in the direct path of the eclipse’s totality, there were predictions of millions of people descending on those locations. Hotels would be full. Restaurants would be overflowing. Highways and city streets would be gridlocked for hours.

In some reports it was touted to be the first total solar eclipse since the early 1900s.

That wasn’t true.

I remember using Daddy’s welding helmet to watch one when I was still in high school.

But that was before there was twenty-four-hour-a-day-seven-day a-week news coverage, and before social media.

Unlike eclipses of the past, this one was publicized and packaged and marketed like a commodity to be bought and sold.

Millions of tee shirts were purchased announcing where the wearer was when the eclipse occurred.

Bakeries designed special doughnuts made to look like the sun’s corona at the peak of totality.

Companies from all over the world, well, mostly from China, made and sold so many special eclipse viewing dark glasses that nearly everybody I know had a pair. The folks who weren’t able to get a pair ahead of time were scrambling at the last minute to get them.

Seems nobody wanted to miss the big event.

Well, almost nobody.

As always, there were cynics.

I heard one fellow say that he wouldn’t bother to watch.

Somebody said they'd be glad when it was over so people would “move on”.

That it was “a stupid waste of time”.


I'm guessing some of those same folks think that watching lightening bugs on an early spring night while the woodland critters and bugs harmonize is a useless endeavor.

Or that the sounds of a hard summer rain playing a symphony on a tin roof is just irksome noise.

That a gaggle of geese flying far overhead in a perfectly choreographed vee is just another bunch of birds.


Sitting at one’s computer staring at one’s Facebook page might be more exciting than a truly fascinating, totally natural extravaganza to some folks, but not to me.

I savor the shows, big or small, that God provides us through the nature that He created.

I look up.

I happen to be a star gazer, a watcher of the sky.

Now let me add, I know very little about what’s actually up there. Not counting the Big and Little Dippers, I know how to identify a total of exactly one constellation, The Hunter, Orion. I couldn’t tell Ursa Major or Ursa Minor from Ursa Average-Sized and couldn’t differentiate between Cassiopeia from Constantinople, but, I still look.

So when my wife and I found out months ago that her hometown was in the direct path of the coming eclipse we immediately started making plans to watch it over the lake near there. She did the research into the safest and best glasses to watch with, ones that were approved by none other than the fine folks at NASA. We read as much as we could about exactly where the best viewing spots would be. We started planning travel routes that would avoid as much of the arriving masses as possible.

We were prepared.

We weren't disappointed.

We arrived early and found a spot where there was no crowd, just a few other folks in lawn chairs.

Then, exactly as predicted, Ol' Sol began to be covered by the lunar orb once believed to be made of green cheese.

It was a sight to behold, but, only with the NASA approved specs.

As the sky darkened the tree frogs and crickets started sounding off.

The temperature got noticeably cooler.

Then, as God ordained before time began, the sun went dark for a few seconds.

I stood amazed.

"The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands." Psalm 19:1.

I even took a quick peek without the eye protection and I'm thankful to report that I didn't go blind.

Many years from now if anybody reads my journals they'll know that we witnessed the Great Total Solar Eclipse Of 2017.

Perhaps some of my more cynical friends wrote of not wanting to leave the Andy Griffith reruns long enough to see celestial history made.

Not me.

I looked up.

So, where were you?

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of two books of Southern Humor, Howlin’At The Dixie Moon and South O’Yonder. He lives in Shell Bluff. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

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