Like millions of Americans and welcome guests, my family ventured to the path of totality—perhaps the most cosmic-sounding thing to which we have ever traveled—looked up, and saw for the first and maybe only time the black Moon crowned by the hidden Sun.
We almost missed it. We joined family in Lincoln and drive south toward Beatrice to a grassy triangle on Hackberry Road. The crescent Sun dodged in and out of clouds, but as totality approached, the bank of clouds that had loomed our way all morning lurched over our viewing spot. Good blue was scarce and too far. At T-minus 15 minutes, we saddled up and gambled on catching some thinner haze to the south.
(Note for future reference: do not drive while wearing eclipse glasses.)
We cruised along gravel, imagining a million people along this slanty sash across Nebraska going home depressed. To our southeast, a weird seam in the clouds glowed aqua green. Around T-minus 4 minutes, we called it, here or nowhere. We pulled onto the grass—no deep ditch, just a strip of mowed grass between us and soybeans. The sky west darkened beneath the rain cloud we’d fled, but below it farther west and north, the sky turned sunset gold.
And above—yes, above, the clouds yielded to the crescent Sun, a thinner, more brilliant crescent than the Moon can ever be but which only the Moon can make. Sliver, sliverer, sliverest… and my eclipse-shades went dark. I stripped them off, thinking the clouds had w—
I took pictures for maybe twenty seconds. I took mind pictures for the other minute-plus of totality. Around the moon, through wisps of haze, million-degree-hot plasma driven into space by nuclear fusion 94 million miles away shone silver blue.
The moon moved on, chasing our whirling world east, yielding to that nuclear fire that gives us shadows and life.
Postscript: The same law firm that calculates productivity losses due to the NCAA March basketball tournament estimates that Americans lost $694 million in disrupted productivity today. Maybe, maybe not, but look unto the heavens, today and every day, and know that money isn’t everything.