Inside: Catching the total eclipse, crossing the mighty Mississippi for the love of a peach, and a movie recommendation.
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Catching the Total Eclipse
Well the big news isn’t really news to many people, but it’s worth celebrating all the same. Like many across the nation, we stood in awe as the moon slipped between the sun and Earth. Fortunately for us, we live close to where viewing the total eclipse was possible, so around noon Hubs, Mom, and I headed to Lake St. Louis (the town Hubs grew up in). Just before we left, Emily texted there was already a “bite” out of the sun from her viewing spot in Unger Park, Fenton, so we eagerly put on our glasses to see.
We weren’t sure what to expect, as news outlets had warned people to have full tanks of gas and expect long waits in traffic. Some had estimated that millions of people would gather in the prime viewing area and cautioned folks to be prepared. Mom joked that she had a couple of Larabars and a water bottle if we got stranded. We crossed Interstate 70 and noticed no surges in traffic. Everything pretty much looked like business as usual. We drove around the lake and spotted a few merrymakers on a pontoon boat, then headed for the marina where a dozen or so people gathered. Finally we settled on Frontier Park were a small group of people had assembled. No traffic jams to speak of–just a few enthusiasts waiting and watching as the moon slowly covered the sun.
It was an odd sensation as daylight gradually became, as my friend Patty described it, muted. As time for the eclipse grew close, the street lights came on in a sort of quasi twilight. Then as the moment of totality was just about to happen, a large cloud covered the spectacle. I whispered a prayer to God that we’d be able to see the wonder of His creation, and a few seconds later the clouds parted long enough to view the complete covering of the sun. It was one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen.
Rather unceremoniously we exited the park after the street lights went off. And life returned to normal again.
Except that we had just witnessed something truly incredible.
Crossing the Mighty Mississippi for the Love of a Peach
What do you do when your favorite (and only) peach tree comes down with a case of leaf curl? You do without peaches–that’s what. So while in previous years I would have spent two to three weeks picking and processing bushels of peaches and making our favorite peach recipes, this year we took a road–and boat–trip to our neighboring state and county (right across the river from us) Calhoun County, Illinois, a quaint place of rolling hills, known for its orchards. By far the easiest way to get there is to take the ferry, and because we hadn’t done a thing during our staycation–okay, Hubs rode 85 miles on the Rock Island bike trail, so I hadn’t done a thing–a trip was in order.
Pulling up to the ferry always brings back memories from our early twenties when Hubs and I would go pick up a jag of hay for the dairy herd, taking the ferry down in Winfield to cross the mighty river. That ferry no longer runs, so we take the one from St. Peters these days. As we approached, we just missed it, so we parked and watched and waited. I didn’t see any sign for pricing, but I remembered several years ago a round-trip ticket was $8. Finally the ferry returned, and we drove aboard to see the sign with prices–$15! Hello price increase! Okay, so the last time we rode was about eight or nine years ago, when I thought about it.
We decided upon Kamp’s orchard and pulled up to a Quonset shed and a friendly orange-colored lab that the lady running the stand told us belonged to the neighbors. Inside lay an assortment of garden vegetables–have those, don’t need more–and several baskets of peaches, the variety I can’t remember. A quart box of prune plums caught my eye as I told the woman how my mother-in-law had made the most wonderful plum cake when the prune plums came in season every year.
“Did you get the recipe?” she asked.
“I tried, but she wouldn’t part with it,” I said.
She half smiled, knowingly.
We snagged the basket of plums–I’d make that cake, a low carb version, anyway–and turned back to the other fruit offerings. We picked a peck of those precious peaches–don’t you just love alliteration–and paid $20 for them. Heading back to the ferry, we mused about how the traveling expense coupled with the cost of the fruit made for some very expensive peaches. On the ride back over to Missouri we stood out on deck to view another natural wonder–the Big Muddy. Gazing out at the tranquil waters of the Mississippi, a soft breeze in my face, $35 for a bunch of peaches didn’t seem too terribly much out of line.
A Movie Recommendation
I can’t say I always get around to things in a timely manner. Case in point, watching the 2014 movie Unbroken, which is adapted from the book of the same name by Laura Hillenbrand. The movie is from the real-life story of Olympic distance runner and World War II bombardier Louis Zamperini and follows his survival from air crash to being adrift at sea to life in a Japanese prison camp. The story was difficult for me to watch in places because of the brutality, but I’m glad I saw the film. While I won’t go into specifics here, I would highly recommend it for demonstrating courage and inspiration in the face of extreme hardship. One word of caution: There is a scene with brief nudity when the prisoners are stripped naked by their first captors. (There is enough time to anticipate this and fast forward or look away. Personally I think the film could have done without it, as it was obvious they had been forced to strip, but I’m not a film maker.)
Worth noting, though not depicted in the film, is that he came to know Christ and became an evangelist and passionate believer in forgiveness. He met up with most of his former captors to reconcile (this was mentioned in the movie). Another film of his life exists, Captured by Grace, which I imagine tells the rest of the story.
As summer winds down, what have you been up to? Did you catch the eclipse? Tell us about it in the comments.