Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Lunar Eclipse

On August 28th, before sunrise, we were treated to a spectacular show: a lunar eclipse. Strange hour, I thought, to see such phenomenon, but I made sure I was awake.... not easy!

The moon had been full and bright, and from our balcony overlooking Biscayne Bay, it was magnificent. The ocean reflected the light, it was so bright and round. Once it started, the shadow of the Earth moved slowly across the surface of the moon. The sky looked so clear, like a mantel in the background. At some point the moon turned reddish. Of course I have no idea why or how this happened... but the sight was worth having left my cozy bed at such ungodly hour.

I stayed up until the moon moved behind one of the many tall buildings now dotting the edge of the canal separating our small key from the mainland. As I went back to bed, I thought of another such phenomenon, years ago in Curaçao. Not a lunar eclipse then, but solar. On February 26, 1998, our small island was one of the best sites to observe this. Reporters and scientists from around the world descended on the island and everyone talked about it for weeks on end. Preparations were made for the day; newspapers, television and radio stations organized play by play reporting. Friends planned parties, families planned getting together by the beach, at someone's home. Nobody was immune to the fascination of this event and the fifteen minutes of fame conferred to our island.

Once the Oohhs and Aahhs faded, we had weeks more of comparing photos, videos and accounts of where and with whom did we watch the eclipse. Enterprising photographers made money with beautiful pictures made into postcards or with videos that were much better than what most of us could produce. T-shirts were sold as souvenirs. A small eclipse industry flourished for a while. After all, we needed to send these mementos to our children, family or friends living abroad.

In contrast, looking out into our small island on the mouth of the Miami River, I could see that my enthusiasm for this event, was not shared by many....or by anyone! Like the sunsets I so much admire, this was ignored. I don't think anyone has the time to look at the sky anymore. How sad! I do miss the slow pace of the Tropics that allows for a breather now and again to concentrate in something more than what is at eye level.

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