We went to bed last night with the alarm set for 5:30 AM so we could see the total lunar eclipse. About five the cat began his meowing, so while I was up I checked the visibility outside: high fog, no stars or moon in sight – it was also 14 degrees out there. How disappointing! I turned off the alarm and we slept in. Knowing it will be a few years until the next possibility, I felt a bit cheated.
When my children were quite young we anticipated a total lunar eclipse one July night. My excitement was infectious and the kids were anticipating a great event. I popped popcorn, made hot chocolate (July nights in Gold Bar, WA are not warm) and set the kids up on the back patio wrapped in blankets and warm pajamas. As the moon rose full in the already dark sky we settled in and chatted about everything and nothing. When the moon began to disappear they jumped out of their chairs in excitement. It was a slow process to them, but awesome none-the-less and eventually they settled down into their warm blankets again.
For the few days before the eclipse we talked about how the sun, earth and moon would align to cause the moon to disappear. They got the words and probably most of the concept, but to grasp the size of the earth and the distances between the objects involved were a little much to expect from them. As the moon darkened and the night progressed they got almost too sleepy to make it to the complete eclipse. It was great to watch with them and their eager, open-minded thoughts. They were highly impressed with the total erasure of the moon for that couple of minutes and loved that the light began on the other side of the moon as the sun caught it. Not long after that they were tucked into bed, sleeping almost instantly.
I still feel that giddy anticipation at all solar and lunar eclipses. The marvels of the earth and sky, the continents and sea, all of the fantastic creatures that inhabit this planet hold so much awe for me. My kids have lost most of their childhood wonder; they weren’t even interested in this latest eclipse. Maybe they will eventually regain it as they settle into their adult lives. I on the other hand will continue to explore, discover and experience.