This was my second solar eclipse in Maine, my first as a resident. I realized this during a local news station’s preview of the event; they mentioned the last time Maine witnessed a total solar eclipse, in 1963, and I immediately recalled that I had been here in Maine for that one as a kid.

In 1963, my family’s first camping expedition was to Damariscotta. We lived in New Jersey, picked up a pop-up camping trailer somewhere in Connecticut, and hitched it to the back of our nine-passenger station wagon as the six of us continued on our drive up I-95. My father had arranged for our vacation on Lake Pemaquid.

I don’t remember when we first heard about the fact that there was going to be an eclipse, but as the days went on, our dad explained what was going to happen. I also vaguely remember my dad having rolls of unexposed photographic film that we doubled up with the glasses. He was maniacal about us looking at the sun and becoming blind. I didn’t blame him.

On the afternoon of July 20, 1963, I remember other campers filtering down to the lake and all the children and adults standing in lake water up to their knees and ankles along the shoreline. The day’s swimming and rides down the slide had ceased. Everyone was holding those sungazing glasses, looking up to behold the extraordinary celestial occurrence.

I don’t quite remember everything about that trip, yet I absolutely remember the afternoon of July 20 and the sun and the enormous blocking out of light by the moon – who I didn’t think had it in him to shut out the dazzling vastness of the massive star in our shared galaxy.

Since that afternoon, I have always found the sky to be the most amazing of places: the colors it can hold at dawn or at sunset, how rainbows can arc across a city, a mountain, the highway or the ocean. In the late 1990s, the Hale-Bopp comet visited us one winter season, and my daughters and I would walk over to the park at night, the girls in pajamas under their winter coats, to marvel at its striking tail of light. In November, the Leonid meteor shower rains down cascades of stars. Sometimes the moon can appear to be so large, so luminous and so near as it rises to almost invite us to drive on up for a visit.

When I first found out about the eclipse’s return to Maine, I texted my brothers to see what they remembered about the trip and the eclipse. This time around, we were all looking up again. As soon as I saw the moon begin to move across the sun, we began to text back and forth; Dennis was home in Vermont, Christopher and his family were in Delaware, and Richard still lives in New Jersey. There it was, a bazillion miles from all of us, and the false light brought on by the moon’s obstruction of the sun was cast across the hillside where I sat in Falmouth, where I now live, as the peepers in a nearby swamp, thinking it was twilight, began their songs. As the sky began to reclaim the day’s deep blue, their evening chorus ceased.

From now on, April 8 will remind me of the day so many people joined together and looked up: the schoolchildren allowed an early release, the businesses closed for a few hours so this heavenly spectacle could be witnessed and shared. The universe seemed so cool to be a part of on this April afternoon.

I hope people continue to look up, and perhaps do more to cultivate coming together to witness all that is incredible and miraculous, hopefully continuing to find serenity and tranquility in the skies above us all.

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