Solar eclipse helps total strangers come together, see the light

eclipse-solar-south-florida

The sun took on the look of a sliver of moon during the solar eclipse. (Fran Davis, Craigslegz.com)

By Craig Davis, Craigslegz.com

For an hour we were like kids again, drawn together by the pure joy in a natural wonder.

Best part, it was all spontaneous, a diverse group of people who just happened to pick the same place to experience the solar eclipse at a county park west of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

No names were exchanged, no thought given to political and religious views that so often define and divide us.

One man said he was in South Florida working on a year-long religious mission. But he wasn’t preaching. He and his wife had the magic glasses and their only concern was that everyone who came by had a chance to get a look at the marvel in the sky as the moon crossed paths with the sun.

Of paramount concern was that everyone enjoy the spectacle safely without damaging their eyes.

Another man arrived with a large cardboard box fashioned into an eclipse viewer. But the hole in the top was too large to focus the image. So people worked together to alter it so it worked.

Various other viewing aids were tried and shared. The colander my wife brought was a big hit, projecting dozens of images of the banana-shaped sliver of sun peeking around the moon. Nature also lent assistance as sunlight through tree canopies cast a collage of curved bits of light, like so many smiles, on the walkways.

I spent more time watching the people interact than squinting at the sky. It was a delight to be part of the simple pleasure of a shared experience.

A woman hurried over to share the news that she had just spoken on the phone to her son in Tennessee where the eclipse was total. She relayed that in that area the light had dimmed enough to make the stars visible and for night hawks to take flight.

In South Florida the effect was more subtle. But the smiles on the faces made for a bright spot in an otherwise mundane day.

There were many planned viewing experiences throughout the parts of the country where it was possible to watch the rare event. Some attracted large crowds. Someone had heard about a college football stadium where they were charging $25 to come in and watch.

But chance encounters tend to be most satisfying. This small gathering of a dozen or so curiosity seekers was priceless and perfect.

It reminded me of what sometimes happens when travelers come together by chance to partake and compare notes at an attraction of interest. It is one of the best aspects of traveling.

I hope I don’t have to wait for the next solar eclipse to experience something like it again.

 

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