Recovering from the Great American Eclipse

After all the hubbub, hoopla and hype surrounding last week’s cosmic spectacle, I think I’ve developed a case of post-eclipse ennui.

And it’s not because I don’t have anything to occupy my time – if anything I have more work as a result of all the driving and time spent away from home – but overall, the eclipse took a toll on me.

My co-worker Billy Birdwell and I started planning for the event in the spring and got exponentially more excited as Aug. 21 approached. Hartwell Dam, which is managed by Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, fell within the path of totality and seemed like the perfect venue.

Despite all our planning, the eclipse still caught me off-guard.

Everything I had read and watched focused on the precious period of totality; or about how quickly the umbra recedes; or the eclipse photographer’s delight: Bailey’s beads and the “diamond ring” effect as the sun penetrates the peaks and valley on the moon’s profile.

Honestly, I wasn’t overwhelmed emotionally and didn’t have any epiphanies during the 1 minute, 52 seconds of totality, however, that 10-15 minute period leading up to it still sits with me. If you were in the path of totality (and had clear skies), maybe it struck you, too.

Everything was saturated with this muted hue and almost had a grainy dream-like quality to it. It was as if the sunlight was buzzing – definitely still bright outside, but not bright enough to need your sunglasses.

Wildlife in the area noticed, too. I didn’t remember hearing cicadas during the event, but the audio I captured on my camera was full of their songs — or perhaps they were crickets?

I never felt the temperature drop but did see “snakes” on the pavement – these wavy bands of shadows that scientists are still trying to understand.

The second half of the eclipse, as the moon made its way across the rest of the sun, was largely uneventful and occluded by clouds. No more anticipation, and really, not much more to see.

Visitors at the Big Oaks Recreation Area just across the water from us piled back into their cars and headed home. We packed up intermittently and waited for the show to end.

In her essay “Total Eclipse,” author Annie Dillard wrote about her experience with one in Washington state in 1979:

“The sun was going, and the world was wrong. The grasses were wrong; they were now platinum. … I was standing in a movie of hillside grasses filmed in the Middle Ages. I missed my own century, the people I knew, and the real light of day.”

I can imagine how these cosmic events must have stirred people a thousand years ago when they seemed to occur out of the blue. Even with months of preparation I still wasn’t ready for it.

If you missed this eclipse, there’s still time to plan for the next one, which will cast a moving shadow from Texas to Maine, April 8, 2024. Birdwell is already making plans and I am, too.

~ Jeremy S. Buddemeier, Corporate Communications Office

About US Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Savannah District oversees a multi-million dollar military construction program at 11 Army and Air Force installations in Georgia and North Carolina. We also manage water resources across the Coastal Georgia region, including maintenance dredging of the Savannah and Brunswick harbors; operation of three hydroelectric dams and reservoirs along the upper Savannah River; and administration of an extensive stream and wetland permitting and mitigation program within the state of Georgia. Follow us on Twitter @SavannahCorps and on Facebook.com/SavannahCorps
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