From the first time I heard about the total solar eclipse coming to a large swath of North America in 2024, I knew I wanted to be in the path of totality. Not only did I want to experience it, but I wanted my kiddo to experience it too.

I started planning well over a year ago. The plan went through a few iterations (including Indianapolis to visit a friend, Buffalo/Niagara Falls, and Burlington, VT), but I eventually chose the Magog/Sherbrooke area as a location… partly because I’d been here and wanted to come back, partly because it was one of the closest places for us to see it, and partly because I figured it wouldn’t be as crowded as, say, Burlington (and if we’re being completely honest, I also like to GTFO of the US whenever I can). I bought our eclipse glasses. I invited some friends and we found a pet-friendly house so that our friends’ dog could come with, and we were in business. Oh and the house had a hot tub, too. That’s important. 

We met at the house on Friday night and spent a wonderful weekend together, playing board games, shooting the shit, and soaking in the hot tub. The kids had fun together.

On eclipse day, we put together a pinhole viewer and made corona art.


Near go time, we put together our essential supplies – sparkling wine (sparkling lemonade for the kiddos), crackers, cheese, fruits, and veggies, and we headed out onto the porch with our eclipse glasses and phone camera filters. We brought the pinhole viewer, a poster board, and a colander out be able to see what shadows would look like.  I also had the kids give me their hypotheses about what would happen during the eclipse so that we could make observations and see if their hypotheses were correct. (What? I’m a scientist! This is what you happens when you go on vacation with a scientist!

(I swear I asked everyone if they were in the photo because I couldn’t see with the eclipse glasses on and they all said yes. Welp, that’s my spouse’s elbow anyway.)

When we got to C1, we could see the barest sliver slowly start to disappear from the bottom-right of the solar disc.

We continued watching as it slowly grew chillier and dimmer outside. The birds started singing evening songs and roosting in the trees, and the world grew less colorful as more and more of the sun disappeared behind the lunar limb. We played with shadows as we waited for totality.

We neared totality and the last sliver of light clung on for dear life.


And then we were covered by the moon’s umbra. Totality had arrived, and everything changed.

We were plunged into twilight with a 360° sunset along the horizon. The world became cool, dark, quiet, and still, and it almost felt like time stopped. We took off our eclipse glasses and looked at the sun’s corona. We surveyed our surroundings. We took photos. And I knew that I would never have the words to truly describe how profound an experience totality was. As another friend said afterward, it was exactly like the pictures and also nothing like the pictures. 


And as abruptly as it started, totality came to an end. We hurried to put our eclipse glasses back on as the sun came into view once more, brightening and warming everything around us as soon as even the tiniest sliver of the solar disc was visible.  

And then it was back to business as usual.

To think of the coincidences that went into making this event possible boggles the mind. And then for the world to continue on its merry way as if this amazing and awe-inspiring event hadn’t just happened… hoo, that’s some late-night can’t-fall-asleep thinking right there. As Toad the Wet Sprocket sings, “It feels so good to be so small.”

I’m so glad we came to the path of totality. I would have never known what I missed, I guess, but this was the coolest thing I’ve ever experienced. The folks who said 99% is not the same experience as 100% were not just being prissy – they were absolutely right. It was a profoundly different world for that three minutes and twenty-seven seconds than it was even a second before and a second after.

I’m exhausted but so, so joyful.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *