So I’ve been thinking about this past Monday and events surrounding the celestial event that occurred in the sky above Rosewood. I started the day by walking down to Owens Field Park and finding folks from all around the country setting up tents and canopies and chairs, and getting ready for the total solar eclipse that would start in a few hours.
An ol’ boy from Delaware was sitting in the shade beside his Dodge Charger, and he said with a laugh that the humidity wasn’t bothering him at all. A group of folks from Florida were tossing around a Frisbee and said they just picked out a park in the path of totality and landed at Owens Field. A city parks worker was passing out the special glasses needed to view the eclipse, and she was having a big time. “Honey, I’ve talked to people from Texas to New York,” she said.
A family from India, who now live in Philadelphia, were having lunch on a blanket and said they were excited about seeing the eclipse. I wished them a good day and hurried back to my house for some lunch. Afterwards, I gathered up the remaining eclipse glasses I’d been given to distribute to the neighborhood and headed back out the door. Down the street, Rosewood Park was filling up with people, and everyone I asked already had eclipse glasses. But they all thanked me for the offer and many thanked me for making the effort to see that everyone had a pair. That’s kind of weird, I thought.
I hustled back to Owens Field and saw people getting their picture taken next to our Rosewood Public Orchard sign. Hispanic kids were kicking a soccer ball back and forth on the soccer fields. Frat guys were buying cheese-steak subs from a couple African-American ladies cooking away in their food-vendor’s tent. Everyone was laughing, talking, and trying on their glasses. The eclipse was coming, and for some reason I flashed on Robert De Niro in the movie “Brazil” telling Jonathan Pryce that “We’re all in this together, kid.”
I scurried through the woods next to the park and found a secluded spot behind Memorial Stadium to watch the approach of totality. I admit, I wanted to experience it by myself, and it was truly special, as moving as I was told it would be.
While I was walking home, I began to think about all the people and events I’d seen during the day, and I couldn’t help noticing the contentment I was feeling. OK, before we go any further, I have to say I’m trying not to be all flower-power and hippiefied here. I have a history of being as good a downbeat pessimist as the best of them. But there was no denying the sense of good will I’d felt from everyone I met this day. A sense of joyful expectation as the eclipse approached, and a shared exultation when the moon started to slide completely in front of the sun.
It was like all the recent distressing events, from saber-rattling between North Korea and the U.S. and hate groups marching in our streets to Muslim bans and forced deportations, were reduced to back-page stories in a supermarket tabloid. The eclipse had dwarfed them all. For two and a half minutes, we were all residents on a battered ball of dirt, rock, and water, and we weren’t all that different from each other. It showed us that time is precious, and we should spend more of it getting our act together.
As I walked home, I knew we had to knuckle down. When the moon slid away from the sun and things returned to normal, it felt like a sign that we might not have many more opportunities to get it together. So OK, the old hippie in me is saying, let’s do it. Let’s get it together.