Monday, August 21, 2017

Breakfast with Turkeys -- Solar Eclipse

Breakfast with turkeys?  I bet you think I’m going to write about the hoards of people who came to Oregon for the eclipse.  Read on…..

I was thrilled when I heard Oregon was going to experience a total solar eclipse just eighty miles north of us.  I ordered a packet of cheap eclipse glasses and started making plans.

I happened to have my annual eye exam just after I ordered my eclipse glasses.  My doctor frowned and said he wouldn’t trust any glasses.  Bah Humbug!  I researched on the internet and assured myself I’d ordered good ones and I promised myself I’d just take very quick peeks.

‘Where to go’ was the next bummer.  Reports started pouring in of a million people making plans to come to Oregon for the event; of porta-potties being imported from Idaho; of traffic jams; of concerns about where were all these people going to stay; bring your our water, toilet paper, etc.....

I settled on ‘Plan B,’ i.e. just go high in the Cascade Mountains near the path of totality and see what totality looks like from a distance.  We could scout out a spot where Mt. Jefferson is visible from somewhere much nearer to us, but.......

But wildfires started.  The highway we needed to take has been closed for days, and even if it was open, it just didn’t make sense to wander the back roads of the Umpqua National Forest when we are in the midst of a severe fire season.  By now I suspected Oregon wasn’t going to offer that pristine view into the Universe that one hopes to see during totality – too much smoke in the air. 

My heart soars when I think of a sparkling clear moonless night at Lava Beds National Monument (northern California where we are far from lights and the air is dry). There we can look far into the heavens, with binoculars even farther; and with our spotting scope even farther. Space is endless when looking up into that starry sky.  I get it when people rave about the eclipse; but the prediction of crowds and smoke just didn’t appeal to us.

Finally we decided to just stay home for the eclipse.  At 10:26:35 AM we’ll get 96.3 %  totality.  That sounds good.
Monday, Aug 21
Time is scrambling by this morning.    A little bite is already out of the sun when we return from our morning walk.   I hurry to make breakfast and start my first sketch.  I’m juggling eggs, eclipse glasses, sketchbook, and trying to ignor the TV.  I want to enjoy my experience.

By 9:30 we’re out on the deck enjoying our breakfast.  The sky seems just a little darker than usual – dull gray.  It is hard to tell how much of the dulling is smoke and how much is caused by the moon slipping over the sun. 
 A pair of chickadees is still talking to each other, but it is seven turkeys that provide the treat I was hoping for.  One by wild turkeys fly over the neighbor’s fence and up onto our roof.  Recently we’ve been seeing them on our street, but not in our back yard.  The turkeys are discussing these odd events.  We hear a whistle-like call that doesn’t sound like an alarm call; more like a ‘What’s up?’ call.  It’s a new sound for us. 

Four of the turkeys are on the house roof and the rest are on the deck roof over our heads.  They watch, but they don’t watch us.  They are very alert.  I can just see their little grey cells going round and round – what is going on? 

Finally, one by one, the turkeys drop off the roof and slowly wander across our back yard.  I don’t know where they roost, but I can’t help but wonder if they are heading for home.  The air is very still.  All we can hear are the turkeys talking to each other and some traffic.  Spooky quiet.
Our ‘totality’ (96.3 %) isn’t as dark as I expected.  I think thick clouds at midday are just as dark, but this sky has a dull, even darkness.  Not a cloud in the sky.  It feels cooler and a little eerie.  

At totality we watch the thin sliver of sun slip around the moon.  For about two minutes it inches along before the sun finally starts to slowly come back.  In about an hour life will be back to normal.

I probably shouldn't have put two moon on the same page ... one during our darkest time; and the second when the sun starts to come back.


  1. I loved reading your account of events during the eclipse. When we had a similar event some years ago here in the UK, I was surprised everything didn't go really dark, like you say, it went dull. Lovely to experience though isn't it. Your paintings really capture each moment you saw so well.

  2. Thanks Elva,for the moons and those delightful Roseburg turkeys. By the way Greg and I went to the Menagerie Wilderness. It was pretty neat there too.

  3. Delightful eclipse report! I was in McMinnville for it! My own blog report coming tomorrow.

    - Tina