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November 7, 2017 > The day I saw the Moon eat the Sun

The day I saw the Moon eat the Sun

Submitted By Stephanie Nevins

It was warm when we arrived that morning and staked out our viewing spot on the high desert plateau, but now a crisp breeze put a chill in the air. Surrounding mountains began to dim; the landscape below us slowly transformed from bright desert yellows and sagebrush greens to a dull purplish gray.

Looking at the sun with my eclipse glasses, I reckoned we were still a few minutes away from totality. But I could feel itÑsomething was happening.

Then, a giant shadow sped across the land toward us and within seconds it was dark, cold, and impossibly still. Even my 6-year-old son and 9-year-old daughter, pulled out of school for the day, didnÕt make a peep. We had traveled 850 miles to Challis, Idaho but I wasnÕt prepared for this: it wasnÕt a midnight sky nor did it mimic the hours before dawn or after sunset. A sky of deep violet shrouded a landscape full of sharp shadows.

When the moon engulfed the sun, what I saw was glorious: a big black circle in the sky was surrounded by a quivering band of intense white; a single bright spot flared for an instant and we saw the Òdiamond ring.Ó

Eclipses of the past were ominous events, often used as a weapon of superstition to cow the uninformed into submission. How grateful I am that today we can simply enjoy the striking, beautiful, and awe-inspiring occurrence for what it is. For me, it was a once in a lifetime experience that gave me pause, and prompted deep reflection about nature, its cycles, and the power of the sun.

On our way home, the effects of the eclipse on my kids was reduced to scarfing down Sun Chips and Moon Pies, while singing ÒYou Are My Sunshine,Ó and ÒHere Comes the Sun.Ó As a water conservationist, however, I continued to mull over the connection between the sun and my work.

The Sun brings warmth and regulates nature, so when itÕs swallowed up, plants and animals take notice. Their normal routinesÑfinding food and finding mates, or using chlorophyll to make foodÑare suddenly disrupted. Only when the Sun returns do their lives return to normal.

So, what is the connection to water conservation? The Sun is the major component of photosynthesis, without which plants would not process carbon dioxide, use water, release oxygen, or produce the sugars that help them grow.

When days are long, plants are busy processing and using resources. When the days are short, they donÕt work as hard, and use less resources, and most importantly, they use less water!

You can safely turn sprinklers down by 50% this fall, and completely off this winter. Even if we donÕt have frequent rainfall, those plants just donÕt need as much water.

The 2017 eclipse will always have a place in my memories; the rhythms of nature are both awe-inspiring and integral to our lives.

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