Monday, May 21, 2012

Solar Eclipse

We couldn't see any of the solar eclipse last night from where we are, in the southeast part of the country, but the news reports and excitement of it reminded me of when we last did see a complete (or maybe it was almost complete) solar eclipse that actually made the sky go dark around noon.  I was home with my two oldest girls, ages 4 and 2.

They were both sick with the chicken pox, which meant they could not go to day care (back then there was no pretense that it was "pre-school", it was just day care, and in fact my number one criteria in choosing the place was that it focused on play and fun, and had a great gym with open ended wooden play structures for when weather prevented going outside), and I had to take leave from my law practice to stay home with them for the two weeks of quarantine.  A foreshadowing of the homeschooling choice I would make when they were 8 and 6 and baby Hannah joined our family.

The girls never actually felt very sick when they had the chicken pox, so we took lots of walks and did lots of art projects.  Back then there were also no "chicken pox parties", the vaccine had not come out, or if it had it was still very new -- and chicken pox meant you could only be around other kids who had already had it, so it was indeed a quarantine.

I forgot a solar eclipse was going to happen that day -- being home with two young children tends to drive such things from one's memory.  But after lunch we took a walk around the neighborhood, which despite being in the autumn (October I think, but it could have been September), had a heavy tree canopy of trees still holding on to their bug-eaten, tattered leaves.  At some point I noticed the pattern of the leaves on the sidewalk.  And then saw a million tiny eclipses on the concrete, where the sun shown through each little hole on every leaf!  It was amazing, to be home with the girls during a time when I worked full time, to be taking a walk at the very moment of this phenomenon, for it to be sunny enough (unusual for Memphis in the fall).  An adventure I still remember vividly 22 years later.

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