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Silver Threads: Eclipse

When the moon’s journey between Earth and the sun plunges our world briefly into darkness — at least for viewers in a wide swath from Washington state to South Carolina — I won’t be there to see the light go out.

On the occasions that my family plans an outing on which I’m considered too elderly and infirm to join, I agree with them. My eyesight is bad, my step halting, and I’ve probably already done the thing more times than I can count.

But this thing — seeing a total solar eclipse across the United States — I haven’t experienced, and I’m wildly envious of my 20-something grandsons, who are packing their car to go to North Carolina as I write.

When two young cousins from Dallas and new to this city came to visit last weekend, my daughter offered to take them on a long, nighttime French Quarter prowl and she did ask if I’d like to go.

No way, Jose. Been there, done that. But do bring me a bag of beignets.

Now my grandsons and their dad, are all pumped up to see Monday’s solar eclipse, which will be total above the area where they plan to camp. They are getting out backpacks, sleeping bags and tents for the adventure.

An adventure I wish I could be part of, even though my feelings about long hikes in hilly if not mountainous terrain and sleeping on the ground aren’t positive, to say the least.

It has been almost 40 years since I joined my husband and about six other members of the Sierra Club on a four-day walk on the Appalachian Trail, out of Gatlinburg, Tenn. I had a desk job, an aversion to exercise, and boy did I suffer. The guys on the hike were all “super hikers.” We three women ranged from one “pretty much up to the trial" to two who moaned and groaned at every turn of the trail.

When we got down to the place where we’d parked our cars and had planned to put up tents for the last night in the area, I announced that I would be driving into town and looking for a nice motel room with a big bathtub.

Not a word was said by the super hikers. Each car followed ours to Gatlinburg. We dined sumptuously, and spent the night together in our room. The girls got the beds and the couch.

I hope the weather is good Monday along the total eclipse strip, no rain in the tents, no clouds over the spectacle. Our chances of seeing the partial aren’t as good here considering the clouds and rain we’ve had lately.

But I do hold the memory of the 1984 eclipse partially visible here. It was a sunny day and we all left the T-P building to marvel at the sight of hundreds of small crescent-shadows across the wide parking lot.

So I have, after all, sorta been there, done that.


The Ogden Museum will be hosting a solar eclipse viewing from their rooftop on Monday, August 21 from 11:00 AM until 1:30 PM. For full details about this event, you can check it out here

Bettye Anding is a former editor of the Living section of The Times Picayune, for which she wrote “Silver Threads” until her retirement. Email comments to her at bta7735@icloud.com.