Op/Ed

Editorial: ‘Cool enough to yell about’

MELISSA FUSSELL AND her son, Otis, traveled from Lebanon, N.H. to watch the eclipse at the Middlebury rec park on Monday.
Independent photo/Steve James

Wherever you were in the path of the total eclipse this past Monday at quarter past three in the afternoon, the world seemingly stood still for a moment or two, and the vibe was noticeably different. People felt connected by something greater than themselves.

A viewer in Burlington said this in the story posted by Seven Days: “That moment where you really realize how small you are in the universe and yet a part of all the forces around you; it’s not an everyday feeling.”

No matter where you were — in a crowd of hundreds dancing and singing to the music, with a small family gathering, or in your backyard alone — the moment of totality exceeded expectations.

“I expected the eclipse to be an equally breathtaking and unnerving experience, and it was,” Addison Independent reporter Marin Howell observed. “What I didn’t expect was the brief chain reaction it set off; the mosquitos that emerged almost instantaneously and the quick drop in temperature as the sky descended into darkness. Bugs and all, it was an indescribable experience I won’t forget.”

One viewer described the experience as being “so viscera.” Others said it so personally moving it brought them to tears. 

But it was also incredibly social. It reminded me that we are, at heart, social creatures. We love to gather and celebrate. We (some more than others) love to dress up, be a little goofy, relax, enjoy each other, dance to the music and have a good time.

It was the opposite of today’s extreme political partisanship that has too often overwhelms public life.

The journalist in me asks, “How is that so? What personal choices do we make each day to embrace such strife in our lives? Why are we drawn to grievance and conflict in politics, when our social selves are more drawn to unity, neighborliness and good times?

If the eclipse had a teaching moment it surely is that nature rules. And that the laws of nature are those we should be holding in greatest esteem. 

My wife and I were lucky enough to join a fun-loving group at the Swift House in Middlebury for a pre-eclipse party with space-themed attire. Clever costumes were often blouses or jackets of shiny silver, some poofy, some sleek, some star speckled, several creative dresses, and a few fun wobbly eyes resembling aliens with painted faces — of the pleasant sort with glitter. Serena kept everyone gleeful and entertained as DJ extraordinaire.

Then we slipped out to our assigned post at the Dead Creek bird viewing area in Addison for the moment.

The unobstructed view west to the Adirondacks allowed us to watch the darkness sweep over the mountains and across the lake toward us. The swirling colors in the low wispy clouds cast an idyllic sunset against the blackness behind. The air cooled. The peepers peeped. And the world stopped for a couple of moments as we all watched in awe, silent, unified in the wonder of the moment.

Then the sky brightened in a burst of sunlight and that was that. Miraculous. Stunning. And, as five-year-old grandson Elwood Ostrow-Lynn exclaimed afterward: “OK, that was cool enough to yell about.”

And people did. In unity and good cheer.

Angelo Lynn

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