November 9th, 2003

duke-juggle

Eclipse Watch 2003

If you cannot watch a lunar eclipse on the ocean, then clearly the next best option is to watch it from the shore of a Great Lake.

It was a cold night, and not many other vacationers had braved the trip up past Port Huron to their beach cottages. All the lights were turned off, and we had the lake to ourselves.

The night was dark, but the beach was well-illuminated by a huge bonfire. The house, backyard, beach, and trampoline were filled with children and adults -- speedskaters of all sizes.

I had feared the cold wind off the lake, so I had bundled up. Thick socks and shoes, a pair of jeans, fuzzy tights underneath, a t-shirt, a long-sleeved shirt, plus a hooded sweatshirt, a leather coat, and some leather gloves. I was ready for the weather, let it come!

I felt a little silly upon finding everyone sitting down to eat dinner indoors...my layers seemed somewhat useless. A meal and a few conversations later though, our coats reappeared. Off we went to check out the bonfire.

It was one of those monstrous bonfires, where you can just toss wood in any old way, and it will just keep throwing off great orange embraces of heat all night. Any marshmallow-roasting attempts turned to marshmallow-burning -- a Fire Beast like that would not permit anything to be only lightly toasted.

The fire was blindingly hot, but the night blindingly cold. I rotated slowly on my axis, trying with little success to keep my whole body at a consistent temperature.

The trampoline looked quite inviting, and during one of its few non-kid-infested moments I could hear its siren voice calling to me. Tempted as I was, I heard another voice reminding me, "Little girls who have hurt their knees shouldn't play on trampolines." So I resisted, I turned my back on its bouncy goodness, and I returned to the bonfire.

The night began very cloudy, and we were concerned the moon would be too covered to see. By the time the eclipse began though, all the clouds had moved elsewhere and we had a perfect view of the entire sky.

Warming your back with a hot bonfire...
listening to the soft and regular crash of the surf...
staring into a dark and star-speckled night....
watching the darkening moon over the dancing lake....
admiring the mass numbers of newly brightened stars...

...I think it was truly the best way to watch an eclipse.