March 9, 2017 4 Comments
About five years ago my wife, Meghann, and I drove out to Grand Haven, located on the shore of Lake Michigan, about fifty miles west of Grand Rapids. West Michiganders refer lovingly to this stretch of shoreline as the “Fresh Coast”. So I’ve heard, anyway; I don’t know if I’ve lived here long enough to call myself a Michigander.
It was May, which in certain parts of the country may connote warm air and the kind of water that invites a refreshing swim. Here in Michigan, however, such conditions may be as many as two months distant. No matter—a different spectacle beckoned us to the windswept beach of Grand Haven, a beach punctuated by a beautiful pier that ends in one of the many stoic lighthouses strewn like pearls on a vast necklace along the shores of Michigan’s Great Lakes.
We came for a partial solar eclipse. Mind you, the moon was expected to obscure no more than ten percent of the sun. Yet ten percent was just enough to darken the sky. With a touch of imagination, one could believe for a moment that an alien spaceship was descending from the heavens and that we were trapped in its shadow. The reality was more fantastic than that, though. What could be more sublime than to stand in the darkness cast by something the size of the moon, just far enough from the earth to perfectly obscure the star that gives us life, yet near enough to lift the ocean’s tides?
The eclipse occurred at sunset, so that as the moon edged ever-so-slowly in front of the sun, the sky darkened all around except for a brilliant circle of yellow and orange light that radiated from the dancing celestial bodies. The wind whipped all around us, yet somehow everything seemed quiet and still.
On the drive home Meghann demonstrated once again that her sense of humor far exceeds my own, and that I’m hopelessly gullible. “I see spots all around,” she said. “Is that bad?” I asked her if she had stared at the sun. She said she had, for the full hour we spent on the beach. I was convinced for most of the drive home that she had done permanent damage to her eyes.
To further illustrate my inferior sense of humor, the joke I would have made in the moment would have been to say something like, “Yes, you must not be seeing clearly because you’ve chosen to date me.” Bada boom. Thank goodness I married a funny one.
*I would like to take this opportunity to advertise a near-full solar eclipse that will be visible from Grand Rapids at 2:22pm Monday, August 21, 2017. https://www.timeanddate.com/eclipse/in/usa/grand-rapids