Monday, March 23, 2015
The Partially Eclipsed Critical Mom
I was expecting the sky to be dark, dark, dark amidst the blaze of 9:30 a.m. but when it was still a regular old cloudy-wintry sky by 10:00, I harrumphed around my office, walked down the hall to ask my colleagues if they had a better view out their window, but no one did. Meanwhile, hysteria reigned--"You're not allowed to look when you're outside, Mommy," said the ten-year-old, who had almost convinced herself that she had to make her way to the tram stop with her eyes shut. We were able to convince her that this would prove far more dangerous than staring directly at the sun. But a friend in a neighboring city told me that the blinds were drawn in every window and that guards were posted at the doors to make sure no child emerged during any recess period. Parents and pupils alike got hysterical. At my child's school no blinds were drawn, everyone was allowed out during the 9:30 recess, but for some inexplicable reason everyone had to stay in during the afternoon recess, that is, when the show was over. And there hadn't even been a show in our part of Germany. Oh, but eclipses can be so thrilling! When I was in second grade we had a total eclipse and one girl in my class, instead of staring through the pinhole at the piece of white paper, looked right at the sun. Her mother rushed her off to the ophthalmologist and the everyone wrung their hands. P.S. She now has the same kind of vision I have--meaning that she, too, wears non-prescription reading glasses. To find real romance in an eclipse, you'll have to turn to novels. Wikipedia has an entry on solar eclipses in fiction. The plot, for example, of King Solomon's Mines takes a nifty twist when the Englishmen just happen to have an almanac, and tell the African natives that they will put out the sun and not give it back UNLESS!!!! So that's how they get to go to the diamond mines, saving a damsel in distress along the way, but getting rich, I'll just spoil the plot for you, doesn't do any of them any good. But who knows how many real life plots turned on eclipses before we had those almanacs? Even so, nobody seems any less hysterical than they were before the advent of what is ambitiously and optimistically termed "modern science."