I’ve only ever seen one eclipse event, but when I heard the other day that there was going to be a lunar eclipse on October 8th, I got very excited. Sadly, it was cloudy in my part of the world, so there was nothing more than a faint hint of pink to the sky. But the excitement of seeing an eclipse again made me think back to my very first one on September 11, 1969*.
I was in grade three at Grosvenor Road Elementary school, in Mrs. Kerr’s class that year. I remember it being a brilliantly sunny and warm day and there was definitely an air of anticipation rippling through our classroom. Perhaps it was because Neil Armstrong had walked on the moon that past summer and we were all looking at the heavens in a new way. Although Mrs. Kerr scared the bejeezus out of me, she must have been pretty cool because she got our entire class outside to watch the eclipse. We were given processed strips of black film and dire warnings to look at the sun ONLY through it; that we would be blinded if we looked at the eclipse with the naked eye.
I remember standing there; neck craned way back, with a piece of filmstrip across my eyes and watching as the moon slowly covered the sun. I felt the warmth of it on my face and the wind rustling my hair; the excited cries of my fellow students, and the curt warnings of Mrs. Kerr when one of the boys tried to take a peek without the filmstrip.
The whole event took about 20 minutes to watch, but I remember being a unsure of what I was seeing and a bit indifferent to the experience. I couldn’t understand what was happening, although I knew it was a big deal in some adult way. Then it was over, and we shuffled back into the classroom and on with our day, and our lives.
And yet, this memory has stayed with me through my entire life. It lay dormant until just a day or two ago, when I was doing my morning Writing From the Heart exercise, It all came flooding back as though it was just yesterday. I think the memory came tumbling out because I had let the inner child inside me (I call her li'l kath) come out to play in a big way the day before. I went out for a tea at St.Arbucks with my friend, EagleSpirit, who just happened to have a tiara in her handbag from her latest move. She let me try it on and snapped some pictures of me.
We laughed so much that afternoon and it was wonderful to feel so much joy bubbling up to the surface of me. That night I ‘friended’ a woman on facebook whom I called The Tiara Lady; she had sold the tiara to EagleSpirit and that’s how I met her. We started riffing off each other to the point that we had concocted an idea to do a photoshoot of tiaras and tutus, wings and wands with EagleSpirit. If you know me, you know that the two things I want most for my li'l kath to experience are having her own sparkly tiara, and her own pink tutu.
What is happening to me? Where is this fun-loving, laughing creature coming from and is she staying? I love her, because she makes me feel so free.
She’s coming from the way, way back, I think. She’s the girl who loved to sing, and dance and show off and she’s the one who made it okay for me to be in St.Arbucks and not give a flying fig if anyone was looking when I rocked that crown on a cloudy Sunday afternoon.
* I certainly didn't remember the date, just the experience, but I found a website that listed all of the eclipse events by decade and location. I know I was under 10, it was a warm day, and I was at school, so this is probably the actual date.