Two hours later, Tim and I were heading home just as the moon started to cover the sun. As we drove along Venice Blvd., we saw several people standing outside, wearing protective glasses and staring up at the sun. The peak of the eclipse was happening at 10:21AM and it was already 10AM. Would we be home in time to experience this once-in-a-lifetime event? And would our neighbors let us borrow their eclipse glasses, because I hadn't even bothered getting any since I assumed I'd be stuck indoors at the doctor's office.
We pulled up in front of the house at 10:10AM. Happily, our across-the-street neighbor came over immediately and offered us a welder's mask that he was holding in his hand.
"Use this," he said as we tried glancing up at the sun. "The protective glass will shield your eyes."
Sure enough, I put on the mask and could see the moon partially covering the sun. "Cool!" I yelled.
Pretty soon other neighbors emerged as we passed around the welder's mask. It was a wonderful moment: standing in the street all together, sharing an historic moment, if only for a few minutes.
Our eclipse was only partial—about 60% coverage—but it was part of a much larger national event that brought people together under the shared banner of nature and science. A small thing, perhaps, but such a relief—even if just briefly—during a month marked by violence in Charlottesville and national divisiveness.
Thank goodness for heavenly bodies . . .