Tuesday, April 25, 2006

August Beleventh

So I have this Tradition with ma cousine (whom you can find over at FeMoHos) in which we go to a new place every August 11th.

It all started in my astronomy class winter semester 1998 at BYU. My professor (an ancient man who proclaimed that women made very good astronomers except when it comes to developing new equipment and who wrote his final test in 1974 and didn't bother to hide the fact) made reference to a coming event: a total eclipse of the sun on August 11, 1999 that would be visible in parts of Europe. Immediately the wheels started spinning in me head. I knew I was planning on being in Europe that summer (I was a German minor and needed to go to the Vaterland to improve my skills--I ended up in Switzerland, but that's another story), and I knew that ma cousine and best friend both had European plans on the horizon. So I proposed to them that we make a concerted effort to meet in Germany on August 11th and watch the eclipse.

As a sort of precursor to the tradition, ma cousine and I were in Prince Edward Island together on August 11, 1998. I think we were aware of the fact that exactly a year from then we would be witnessing the eclipse and it may have been then that we made the decision to spend all subsequent August 11ths together. I'm not sure.

At any rate, very early in the morning of August 11, 1999, we boarded a crowded train at the Zurich Hauptbahnhof headed for Karlsruhe, Germany. The best view was supposed to be in Stuttgart, and everyone knew it so everyone took up all the trainspace and we had to settle for Karlsruhe. But it turned out that we were the Luckiest Girls in Europe because that day a huge cloud settled over most of Germany and all of the eclipse-gazers got gypped. But not in Karlsruhe! We sat there at the zoo next to the flamingos, and though it was cloudy, there was a break right where the sun was. So we saw the whole eclipse (which, at its peak, I thought looked like someone had stuck a thumbtack on the sun) and pretty much as soon as it was over, the clouds covered the sun and it began to rain. I think it was one of the few places in Germany where anybody saw anything, and we were sure that our ending up there had been divine intervention because how could God stand to see us disappointed after we'd waited and planned for a year and half?

At any rate, the next year the three of us were together again, but since then it's just been me and ma cuisine (it's easier because we live in the same city). We've had to make things a little less grandiose since at least ma cousine is a Real Live Adult with responsibilities, bills, blah, blah, blah. But here is a list of the places we have gone since Karlsruhe. Someday maybe I'll write about all of these...who knows?

2000: Bicknell, Utah/Capitol Reef National Park

2001: The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

2002: Coney Island

2003: Le Cirque

2004: The Algonquin

2005: Flowell, Utah and Ely, Nevada/The Loneliest Road

Coming in 2006: West Virginia!


At April 25, 2006 12:57 PM, Anonymous em said...

i was just adding august 11 to my calendar two days ago, thinking i'd like to do one again this year, and wondering when you were going to write about it here.

will you be in india for this year's 11th? what are you thinking about by way of observation of The Day?

At April 25, 2006 1:44 PM, Blogger Lollygagger said...

We are going to West Virginia...I get back from India August 8th, I get to recover for a day or so and then off we go. Ma cousine's sister (who is also ma cousine) is coming too...

My verification word this time is Boonhu

At April 29, 2006 11:19 PM, Blogger lily said...

I have never heard the story of the eclipse... that is so amazing that you got to see it... wowee! I am sad that I couldn't be there to see it w/ you all... One day I will be more of a traveler.


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