Tuesday, August 28, 2007


In the shadow of the planet
London, ON, August 28, 2007, 5:53:57 a.m.

The experts were saying we won't have a lunar eclipse this deep, this dark or this long for a whole lotta years to come. So before bed last night, we spoke about the eclipse with the kids and asked them if they wanted us to wake them up. They seemed excited about seeing something so mysterious and rare, and they all agreed to be roused at an ungodly hour. Bedtime was a cacaphony of questions about how it worked and why it was happening now. They all drifted off to sleep, thinking about waking to to something cool.

Here's my hastily-captured recollection of how the morning played out:

4:45 a.m.: My alarm goes off six minutes before the sun's shadow is set to begin to eat into the moon. I look out the windows and freak a little when I see clouds. Not just a few clouds. A sky filled with thick, patchy clouds. So many that I can't even find the moon. Apparently, clouds are bad for eclipse-watching.

I go outside and manage to catch the occasional glimpse of our only real satellite through little openings in the cloud deck. I silently will the clouds to go away. When that doesn't work, I go inside and think about it at the kitchen table - well, I try to think, because my early-morning brain is feeling decidedly sleepy. So I head back to bed and set the alarm for another 20 minutes of blessed rest.

5:30: Okay, I end up hitting the snooze bar a few times too many. When I finally roll out of bed and wander over to the window, the sky looks brighter and the clouds are dissipating. I run outside. The moon's hanging in the sky and the eclipse is well underway. Showtime. I skip back into the house and gently wake everyone. They seem to smile in the dark as they fetch their shoes and sweatshirts and head for the door. The dog, weirded out that we're all getting up while it's still dark, follows us silently.

5:40: We gather in the street in front of our house. Frasier thinks he's going for a ride in the car. Not so much. Dahlia holds him as he continues to look at us as if we're nuts.

5:43: I take this picture of the fam as they look up at the otherworldly sight in the sky.

5:46: Little man has to pee. Deb takes him in and Zach, Dahlia and I head around the corner for a better look. The dog comes along on the adventure. The clouds are now completely gone, and the kids are buzzing with chatter about what they're witnessing.

5:52: Dawn approaches. The black sky begins to turn deep blue. Impromptu planetary physics lessons continue as we discuss how the Earth is now between the moon and the sun. I throw the camera onto the tripod and shoot with the remote control. I realize a wandering puppy doesn't help when you're doing longish exposures.

6:10: Everyone's yawning, but we're all excited about what we've seen. The moon is now deep in shade and the sky is brightening by the second. We decide to head in so we can get some more sleep before the kids go to camp. Dahlia consents to one last picture as we slowly walk back to the house, stealing more than a few glances over our shoulders to ensure what we just saw wasn't an illusion.

Something tells me they'll remember this morning for a very long time. So will I.

Your turn: Ever have a rare early-morning adventure with folks who matter?


Marion said...

I'm so glad you got these photos, Carmi...we had heavy cloud cover here, and I saw nothing. I was so hoping someone would have some shots...thank you!

It must have been glorious, judging by the photos!

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

You are a better parent than I, Carmi. Even though #1 (who turned seven today!) has an interest in the sky, having him fresh and ready for the second day of school took priority.

I'm bummed, but it was the right call. This time. We'll have other opportunities to marvel at the way the world works.

MorahMommy said...

It was wonderful to see. We all enjoyed the adventure of getting up so early and watch the sky. I think by 6:15 we were all asleep, again. I was so tired I didn't hear the alarm for over an hour!! What a rush this morning.

We were all tired, but we will certainly remember it always!

As always, I love sharing this wonderful adventure, we call life, with you!

aoitenshi said...

Wow that pic is beautiful!!! It was rainy here and I was sick so I didn't risk going out.

MissMeliss said...

Seriously cool photo, Carmi, and you and your other half are seriously great parents.

We didn't even try to look at the eclipse...it's been a rough week.

craziequeen said...

I still remember the solar eclipse we had a few years back - I was giving blood at the time and watched it all through the window while being drained.

Early mornings with folks that matter? Most cheap flights leave at ludicrous times here in the UK, so I have spent many an early morning in airports - mostly with MB, once with work colleagues (my ill-fated skiing trip), and once with my re-enactment friends.


Star said...

I am so glad you got to see it. I was up, heded to the gym, but because of the city lights and not bein at a high enugh vantage point, and some fog, I had no luck. My husband did get to view it as his early am commute takes hi away from the city.

We saw the space shuttle go up twice. Not early in the morning bu still a thrill.

Scarlet said...

I love the way you write about your family and the pics you take really capture the rare and special moments in your life. You dare to live creatively and for what matters, the important things in life, and what's cool is that you present them here in a way that makes it more interesting than anything else the world has to offer. You inspire me.

Karen said...

Hi Carmi! Just returning a visit to you. Glad you and the family got to see the eclipse. I heard that it was too cloudy here and I was not motivated to wake up that early!

Hope all is well. Thanks for listening to my kids' CD!

Webmiztris said...

very cool that you got to see it....I've never witnessed an eclipse of any kind....

Anonymous said...

This post was just glorious, Carmi! And yes, I've had one of those early-morning experiences. Years ago, when I was a sullen college student on vacation with my family, my mother woke me up just as the sun was coming up over the ocean. She said that she wanted to share that sunrise with me, and that I was free to go back to bed afterwards. Now that she's gone, it's one of the top memories on my "Miss Her" list.

Michael Manning said...

Carmi! What an excellent and thoughtful way to create a memory!! Whenever I look at The Moon, I think, "Wow, I know Colonel Frank Borman and how terrifying it must have been to circle the back side of The Moon where if they were off by the slightest mathmatical calculation, they would have been hurled into spce without any chance of rescue. When contact resumed, old TV tape shows "Mission Control" men weeping (and I did too). Very cool post, as usual Carmi!:)

Bob-kat said...

Fab photos as ever. I saw the last eclipse we had in the UK and it was incredible to actually witness the movement of the earth through it's shadow.

I remember when I was a child getting up with my family during storms. Mum and dad would make tea and biscuits and we would gather at the window to watch the lightning. It was like a midnight party and so exciting. I still get up to watch night storms to this day.

Awareness said...

beautiful story, Carmi.....

I was on the road travelling and missed the whole eclipse thing.

A couple of years ago, I woke early to find the most amazing sunrise greet me....it was bright red, with deep blues and purples....stunning. So, I woke up my family to take it in.

We have also jumped in the van for a vacation trip early morning and that is always exciting.

Chad Oneil said...

I'm glad you got to capture that rare event.

A rare early morning event with people who matter? I guess once in a while, I'm not a morning person ;)

Now, late night events with people who matter? That happens more often.

David said...

you did well, to give that experience as a gift to the young ones.
thanks for sharing the pictures.
my move is well under way, and I decided to decorate my interior spaces with framed photos. Yay!

Shalom, friend

D.O.M. Dan said...

What a heart warming post. Anything I do I enjoy more when my whole family does it together.

I saw the eclipse from Southern California, and it was beautiful. Not so beautiful was that it was taking place between 1:00 a.m. and 3:00 a.m.

Every morning is an adventure in my house. My wife and kids hate to get up to go to work and school. I'm the only morning person in my house.

kimberly said...

What a wonderful experience to share with your family.

I remember the lunar eclipse I saw in 1990... and a large part of the memory is of the person with whom I watched it.

Linda said...

ah...I haven't commented much, though lately, though I've been reading regularly....

Your photos are quite stunning...particularly the photo of Dahlia.

Early morning adventure? Well, when we go on vacation, we have a little routine for our first day. We load the car up the night before, get the kids' outfits ready and early in the a.m., we walk in and wake each one up with, "You wanna go on vacation?"

They love the early morning time getting into the car and watching the sun rise as we drive east.

Joan said...

Beautiful and touching yet again, Carmi. Sadly, life was not conducive to me & mine watching the eclipse this time, but I do have a vague memory from around 20 years ago of an early-morning adventure with my family. I was pretty young, but I think we were trying to see a comet. Because we lived in the city, though, we had to drive out to somewhere there would be less artificial "glow." I don't think we managed to glimpse the comet then, either, but the quality time together and still-warm, fresh doughnuts after we gave up made the whole thing worth it. :)

gautami tripathy said...

They will. No doubt about it. I still remember the lunar eclipse my dad insisted we all watch with him in the middle of the night. It was long time back. We don't have pictures but I recall myself huddling into my dad, surrounded by my brothers and mom. I think we must have made a picture with eyes almost falling out. Now when I watch an eclipse, I recall that.

Michele knows I like to ramble. Hence she sends me here so that I do that.