My late grandfather used to often say that someone was “a day late and a dollar short”. He used the phrase to describe someone who had just missed the prime chance to do or see something big. I’m certain he would have thought of the Great American Eclipse as one of those things.
I have a long history of being in important places right before or after major events…
- For example, Canton just before the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction.
- Or a dozen different cities right after the big game (Super Bowl, World Series, National Championship).
- Catching the last flight out of O’Hare or LaGuardia before the airport closes for weather.
- And now today, central Oregon – ground zero for the Great American Eclipse of 2017 – right after the main totality event, right where I was 24 hours too late!
I arrived today going against the grain of traffic. The airport was full of people flying out as I was flying in. The rental car lot was full of returned vehicles for a change. My “midsize” car from National’s Emerald Club was upgraded to a BMW. I checked into one of my favorite hotels to find the staff slowly starting to recover from a hectic weekend.
I don’t feel like I missed TOO much by missing totality. But perhaps Jim and I didn’t get quite excited enough about the Great American Eclipse to begin with.
We are both old enough, unlike many of our younger friends, to have witnessed the 1979 eclipse here in Fort Worth. While Jim can’t remember exactly where he was watching it in the 3rd grade, I recall it vividly. I was watching as a first grader on the black top at Eagle Mountain Elementary School. We made primitive viewers and stood outside to watch it pass overhead, even though we only had about 70% coverage in Texas.
Pretty cool, I thought even back then, even without totality.
And “once in a lifetime”, right?
I assumed it would be. Back in 1979 it seemed like waiting another 38.5 years was a lifetime away. To a first grader, it certainly was. I just knew there was NO way my grandparents would be alive to see another one (although my grandfather damn sure almost made it)! And I incorrectly figured neither would my parents. (I clearly didn’t have any concept of life expectancy back then.)
I thought for sure that I would be too OLD to be able to actually watch another eclipse.
What little did I know then. I figured 1979 was THE main event.
I was totally unprepared for yesterday’s event whether watching from Oregon or Texas – this despite marking it on my calendar several years ago. Perhaps now is a good time to stock up on eclipse viewing glasses to be better prepared the next time around! A day late and a dollar short indeed.
We’ll have no excuse next time. We know already that we will be right in the path of in the totality zone for the Great American Eclipse of 2024. And Fort Worth is already making lists of the “best places” to watch the eclipse from. Depending on how good the rates are, we could be incentivized to list the house and skip town altogether. We could actually miss a big event on purpose!
But if we miss it, we’d be waiting until 2044 to see the next total eclipse in the United States – or traveling to see one on another continent. After you’ve gotten to experience some of the cooler parts of the natural world such as sunrises from the tops of ancient temples, then seeing the sun from Fort Worth might be mundane.
But sometimes you can’t take another sunrise for granted, no matter where it happens. Or a simple two minutes outside watching the moon pass overhead can be a magical thing. Missing it, wherever you are, can be a day late and a dollar short.