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Finding Totality

A Connectivity Experience

Being One with the Moment

As April 8th and eclipse day approached, I found within myself a growing urge to make plans that would somehow allow me to uniquely experience totality’s moment.

For a brief while, it appeared our northern New York State Watertown hacienda would be smack dab dead center ground zero for the best clear sky viewing as the moon made its historic passage betwixt earth and sun.

Well upwards of a hundred thousand viewers were projected to descend upon Watertown. Local governmental authorities and agencies made plans accordingly, adding staff, rerouting traffic, urging folks to get to their chosen eclipse viewing sites early and stay off the water, out of the “back country”, off the roads, and wear special glasses during totality’s moment.

A lifelong friend of mine, somehow concerned that I might not heed warnings and try something unsafe or foolish, sent me three pairs of ISO approved viewing glasses along with a stern “X” (TWITTER) warning message.

“Dick. I just sent you a package. Don’t be stupid. Wear the damned glasses.”

Now, I don’t know where any lifelong friend of mine might even GET the idea that I would ever consider doing something other. Truth be told though, up ’til that moment, I had thought the whole glasses wearing thing to be some sort of cruel hoax or joke. So, I was appreciative that he sent them.

As totality’s clock clicked forward, Watertown’s forecast clouded. New York State’s clear sky viewing predictions kept shifting further northeast.

As my viewing plan slowly evolved, it occurred to me that those who chased eclipse clear sky viewing in hopes of capturing that one unique photo were all actually bound to find the same thing. Uniqueness is rarely, if ever, found by following the crowd. I decided I wouldn’t.

My wife and I instead agreed that we weren’t going to get caught up in all the solar eclipse chaser’s hype. What would be would be. We made plans, with my mother, to gather on our back patio and, armed with glasses, cell phones and cameras, together experience solar eclipse totality’s moment.

Still, I wanted to somehow capture some eclipse totality aspect others might miss. I began wondering. How would the waterfowl and wildlife react? I focused my attention on capturing their solar eclipse behavior on my series of trail cameras.

My eight trail cams were already set up so as not to be facing the sun. This was unintentionally fortuitous, because as eclipse day approached, I read a NASA Facebook post warning that direct eclipse cell phone or camera shots without specially equipped lenses could permanently damage their optics.

So, my plan centered around totality trail cam capturing ducks, geese and wildlife. Calculating the sun’s path, I walked out and scouted for my property’s best remote viewing spot, which I found on the south side bank of our property’s “Swamp Pond”.

According to the myriad online published charts, Watertown’s partial eclipse was scheduled to begin at 2:10 p.m.

I planned to experience partial eclipse viewing on our back deck with my wife, then, at about 3p.m., take my totality search out to Swamp Pond’s secluded south bank.

April 8th arrived bright and sunny. The ducks and geese on my main pond didn’t seem to be in any way the least bit eclipse morning pre-dawn disturbed.

Shortly after sunrise, a thin bank of clouds began wafting in. But at 8 a.m., for all of those who had cast their lot on Watertown, New York being the chosen spot, there was still at least some scattered blue sky sun’s rays’ slivers of hope.

8:00 a.m.
April 8, 2024
Watertown, New York
“Slivers of Hope”

I checked my trail cams again at 9 a.m.

Several single engine Canada Geese flights were incoming.

A strutting Tom turkey sought some pre-celestial event morning action.

Beyond that, all seemed quiet on the western front.

At about 2:00 p.m., my wife and I took up pre-planned viewing positions out on our back patio. My mom manned the back deck. The sky was slowly clouding over, but the incoming cloudbank’s hope dashing net had not yet been fully cast.

As we stood counting down the final few minutes to partial eclipse commencement, this male hairy woodpecker seemed totality unphased by once in a bird’s celestial lifetime events about to occur directly above him.

Whilst I fiddled around unsuccessfully attempting to safely and properly focus my Nikon camera, my wife Robin cracked the eclipse photography code by taping a single eclipse eyeglass piece over her cell phone camera lens, capturing this awesome series of partial eclipse shots:

Seeing that my wife had things well in hand, at about 3:00 p.m. I packed up my camera and headed out to find my own Swamp Pond totality, as planned.

While I was gone, Robin took the protective lens off her cell phone’s camera lens and continued totality shooting, firing away outlaw style, naked gun.

Meanwhile, shortly after 3 p.m., as I, camera armed, approached my Swamp Pond, I encountered a mallard pair near Trickle Falls, totally game for some close-ups.

Tired of posing, the mallards took flight, leaving me standing alone by my Swamp Pond, seeking to connect with totality in my own unique way.

“Swamp Pond Seclusion”
3:10 p.m.
April 8, 2024

The sky above was by the minute growing increasingly overcast. The sun’s partially eclipsed rays were already cloud masked.

As I stood there trying to find my way to that one unique camera shot, I suddenly realized, I could watch totality unfold, eclipse glasses free, right there, reflected on the ripple free waters of my Swamp Pond.

So that’s what I did. I removed my glasses. As eclipse dusk approached, a flock of geese flew by low overhead, followed close on by a whistling pair of wood ducks. They were on a flight path they normally follow each day at last light.

I stood alone by my pond. I could feel nature’s touch. I stood au naturel, snapping a series of pond reflected photos as totality’s moment slowly approached.

Then, like some celestial magic, there I was, staring down at pond reflected eclipse imagery as totality stared back.

As the reflected sun’s total eclipse Swamp Pond darkness quietly slipped back towards daylight

I realized, standing there in complete solitude by my pond, that I had found my totality.

In that brief moment I, with God’s universe, was one.


Until Our Trails Cross Again:

“Totality Found”