Wednesday, August 23, 2017

The Luxury of Wonder

The light grew dim, though it was a cloudless mid-day, and it was a thing to behold.  It was the height of the day, but wrong.  Off.  Strange.  Even the shadows seemed deeper.

I and the lad wandered out again and again into the driveway, peering up at the dimming sun through a set of approved glasses.

A mom wandered up the street, her two bustling little boys in tow, each holding a cardboard pinhole contraption.  I offered the glasses to her, and she accepted.  "Oooh," she said.

I helped her place the glasses on two upturned and eager faces.   "Oooh," went the little voices.

A cluster of neighbors gathered on their lawn, each with glasses, gazing upward as they lounged in the grass.

Two houses down, other neighbors peered up from behind the shade of a tree, seeking a glimpse.  I walked over, offered the glasses, and they both happily accepted the opportunity to look up at the 80% occluded disk.

Then, peals of thunder, as a great thunderhead billowed up, moving towards us.  There was a rumble.  And another.  Rain, coming with the stillness of a once-in-a-lifetime event.

The birds grew quiet.  All was hushed.  A little magic.

All except for the sound of the gas-powered line trimmer, snarling hornet-high from the bottom of the street.  And the roar of a stand up riding mower, being started up.

It was one of the lawn care teams that bustle through our neighborhood all through the week.  The men, all Latino, recent immigrants, most likely.  They were hustling hard for their money, putting in hour after hour in the hot sun.  Now slightly less hot, not that they seemed to notice.

There was work to be done, and a schedule, and the eclipse that caught the nation's breath did not slow them.

Even when the sun itself faded into the magic halflight, and the air cooled, their pace did not change.  The lawn had to be mowed.  The task had to be completed.  They were fiercely diligent about their labor.

I watched them, for a moment, for three, to see if they peered upward.  But they did not.

They did not have the luxury of wonder.