Bruce and some of our musician friends from Alaska left around 6 a.m. to reach the point of totality, so they could have the full 2017 Eclipse experience. I was mostly interested in what the eclipse would be like at the farm, and whether or not the animals would show any difference in behavior. So, I stayed here and hiked up to the top of our property on Razorback Ridge. The dogs, Skookum and Gypsy, and the donkeys, Chippo and Ziggy, accompanied me.
Here are the notes and a few pictures from my Eclipse experience.
845 a.m. almost to the top of Razorback Ridge. Should I go on up to the highest point of our property? The eclipse will only last 45-60 seconds here, so if I want to be higher, I won’t have time to move. If a huge dark shadow moves across the landscape, I want to see that.
A jet and a large military helicopter flies by overhead. I hear American robins, goldfinch, Western Meadowlark, black-capped chickadee, and California jays calling.
Richard, my neighbor should be on the ridge directly across from me in 40 minutes. Another military helicopter… a small plane flies overhead.
A gaggling passel of American crow bunched up and gossiping fly up Three Mile Canyon. Skookum has found a huge cow bone, and he’s parading up the steep trail with the bone in his mouth. He sets it down to pee, and Gypsy snakes in and snatches the bone. We finally reach the top where an old stagecoach road intersects the path. I can see down Three Mile to the Columbia River, and up the canyon to the the tip of Mount Hood jutting above Dutch Flats. More chortling-cavorting crows fly by.
My neighbor just texted ; they made it to totality. Bruce just texted; he made it to totality, and he and the other musicians are just setting up to entertain the crowd. Both groups are parked along the highway. Cows at Abbas’ farm are mooing.
I’m at the top settled under a white oak and listening to the melodic tones of meadowlarks as the birds sweep from tree to tree. Usually, I see those birds in the prairie below and not so much in the ridge country. A Cooper’s hawk perches silently in the next oak. Statuesque it seems uninterested in the songbirds passing closely by even though they form a large part of this bird’s diet. The donkeys are coming up slowly from the lower trail. I hope they get closer, so I can observe them when the event happens.
9:08 a.m. Donkeys and dogs are close by my tree. I can hear Chippo’s rumbling gut sounds. Skookum’s butt is on my shoe. Gypsy crunches her bone. A small plane passes by. Dead Still. A Downy woodpecker chases another Downy woodpecker. 9:28 slight breeze and feels slightly cooler. Two small planes flying in tandem fly over my head. 9:48 I think I hear crickets. Is that what I hear?
In ten minutes Fred Meyer’s in downtown The Dalles will close its doors from 10 – 10:45 a.m. to allow its employees in The Dalles to experience the 2017 Eclipse.
I’m watching the shadows made by the tree I’m sitting under. They’ve moved and expanded, but still I think it’s just a result of the sun rising higher in the sky. Perhaps ….
9:45 a.m. and another small plane passes overhead; they must be charters to the eclipse. Two Common ravens fly twenty feet above me. A lot of bird activity today! Both donkeys have moved off, and are thirty or so feet away. They have paused grazing and raise their heads. It is cooler. Another small plane passes overhead. 9:59 a.m. and Lorie’s dogs are barking on the next farm. Donkeys are too far away now for me to see what they are doing. 10:08 another small plane. Light is more flat. 10:10 birds continue singing as normal, but the light is flat and odd. I’m standing along the barbed wire fence line – the highest point of Mule Springs Farm. The dogs are beside me. It’s cool enough now to slip my bandana over my ears. Where is my fleece? Sepulcher light now —flat—despondent— and sluggish. My shadow is long and Skookum’s shadow makes him look like he’s on stilts. The eclipse is definitely happening now. But still birds act as normal. I think all this activity is normal.… Oh this strange dull, insipid light. I could be entering a portal to another universe. It’s suddenly late, late afternoon and the light is plain eccentric. Cool too —so weird. Through the Eclipse glasses I can see the sun is 98 % obscured. I just heard a white- breasted nuthatch. A midnight blue Steller’s jay streaks in. Gypsy begins a long low growl. The donkeys look up with mouthfuls of dry grass, and begin moving toward me. They come right to the place where the dogs and I are standing. 10:22 a.m. The five of us huddle. Chippo tries to eat my Eclipse glasses. Well past weird to indescribable, and then the subtlest , slightest change, and just so barely more light begins to replace the tomb-like atmosphere of the ridge. And just like that — it’s already getting lighter. A burden has been lifted. The dogs go under the fence and explore another farmer’s land, and the donkeys move off and begin grazing again.
10:31 small planes begin returning, one by one overhead as we hike back down the ridge to the homestead. No racing enormous shadow moving across my world. The birds didn’t go silent. The crickets didn’t chirp, or did they? The end of the world as we know it didn’t come. But, everybody wanted to be together for those few seconds when the sun went dark, and we lost, if only for 45 – 65 seconds our sustaining light. Just remember if we really lost our light, we would all die.
Thanks for coming along on my 2017 Eclipse trip.
And below are some pictures that Bruce took at totality. What did you do for the Eclipse—where were you?