It was something, the eclipse.
Especially to be in the path of totality where the moon would completely block the sun for a few moments.
The stars had aligned for us. And we were ready.
Plans had been in the works for months. One neighbor had ripped off some images from the internet and designed t-shirts celebrating the event. Another neighbor had purchased moonpies and sun chips for snacks.
There was beer.
About the only issue facing us was where to see it. In our area, watching the eclipse start to finish would take about 3 hours and options on where to see the sky for that amount of time were limited.
The few houses that make up our community are in a deep valley, heavily wooded, and a lot of the neighborhood only gets sunshine filtered through the oaks, maples and tall white pine trees surrounding us.
The day before the eclipse, several neighbors wandered up and down the lone dirt road that connects us and determined that the cabin on the end offered the best viewing from both the lower porch and in river itself. Sitting in the river is where many of us wanted to be.
More planning. A small tree would be harvested. It would be wedged between the rocks in the river so that floats could be attached. Further, the river was shallow enough at this spot that chairs could be put in the water.
Bonus: this cabin had a refrigerator in the basement. Those sitting on the porch didn’t have to walk very far to fetch and toss beers to those in the water.
The neck on this event was getting redder by the minute.
Everything went exactly according to plan. The sky was blue, the day was warm, the water was cool. And man, down in our valley where we have limited sunshine to begin with, when totality came, it got dark!
Many had gathered in the water a good hour or so prior to the start of the eclipse. The event had come and gone, and people were still in the water. Happy people, lounging in their chairs and tubes.
And there was beer.
We were into about the 4th hour of the party when someone just had to point out that no one had taken a bathroom break.
Here we are, lined up one behind the other in the water, and no one had stood up and announced that they would ‘be right back.’ No one had left the water to ‘take a break.’ We just sat in the river.
And there was beer.
These things go unspoken. Or should. But when someone speaks of it, smiles turn to sneers. Suspicious eyes are cast to everyone around.
Further, in the last couple of hours two pairs of those cheap eclipse-viewing glasses had come floating by us, meaning someone we could not see was upstream from us. At least two people, based on the number of glasses.
Were they also in the water? Did they also have beer? These are questions best unanswered.
But the subject had been broached. Resolution became necessary.
In the end, we all agreed none of us would never do anything like that. Despite being older men and women, our friendship was strong and our bladders stronger.
Everything’s cool, everything’s OK.
One day, when you and your children are visiting the loveliest place on God’s earth you’ve ever seen, and you happen upon a pristine little trout stream, gurgling its way over the rocks, tumbling merrily to a larger river somewhere, and Little Precious looks up at you and asks, “Can I take a drink from it?”
Don’t be my dad.
My dad said, “Sure. Why not?”