Sunday, May 20, 2012

Giving Up Sunshine & the Solar Eclipse

Sunshine                                                                                                  Photo by Nancy Shobe

In just a few minutes, the annular solar eclipse begins.  An annular solar eclipse occurs when the Moon's diameter is smaller than the sun's causing a halo-effect to happen during an eclipse.

I can already see the light changing on the back patio and through my office window. It's becoming an ominous orangish-yellow, the kind that  portends a weird astronomical event or the start of a wildfire.

There's something disconcerting about the moon's "win" over the sun's light. For a moment, I irrationally wonder if normal light will ever return.

It will, after an hour or so, I've been assured.

It's almost a religious event watching the interplay of the sun with the moon, their yin/yang dance with each. It's oddly reminiscent of the Hindu deity, Shiva, the god of destruction and creation. It takes darkness to know the light. It takes light to know the darkness.

I remember my first memory of an eclipse. It occurred when I was around the age of seven and living in Michigan. I was with my brothers at our next door neighbor's house watching the movie "The Birds" by Hitchcock on an old Philco tv set. It was high afternoon during a Midwestern summer, a time when the heat pitches such a fit that you stay inside.

A total solar eclipse occurred right when an especially terrifying scene of The Birds came on -- one in which someone's eyes were being pecked out. Their world went black trying to shield themselves with their arms. My world went black because there was no outside light. I sat in the den with twelve neighborhood kids, feeling completely alone, unnerved and anxious. Hitchcock couldn't have directed it any better.

It's scary giving up sunshine.

Yesterday, I gave up Sunshine, again. This time it was my eight-month old Rhode Island Red. She went to reside at a coop about 15 miles from mine, in a town more bucolic and with wide open space.

Sunshine was the friendliest of my adult hens--the one who flew to me when I walked in the backyard, and the one who bent down for me to pet her when I walked by. She was the best layer, too. I could count on a brown speckled egg every day from her. And, boy, was she a beauty. Her scarlet-red feathers slicked back against her perfectly toned body.

So, why did I give her up? Because, every morning at 6 a.m., Sunshine let out the most strangled, high-pitched sounds. Like Tippi Hedren in The Birds, the croaking sounds were frightening. They would go on and on for at least an hour and often would begin, again, mid-day. Sometimes, her gargled cry even carried on until she was safely roosted in the coop at night.

I knew I really had a problem when I was driving down a neighborhood street about 1/2-mile away and could still hear her plaintive cry through my car's closed windows.

I will never know what made her carry on with such high-pitched cackling chatter. I did read once that Rhode Island Reds can be high-decibel chicks.

I kissed her goodbye, right on the top of her head, placed her in a cardboard box, and watched as my friend drove off with her last night.

It's not easy giving up Sunshine.

And, in just about one hour, I will kiss away the sunshine that's been streaming through my yard all day.

According to the countdown on my I-Phone app,  in 60 minutes the moon will shove its dark body in front of the sun and cast an odd-colored shroud over me; my coop and 11 chickens; my blackberry-brambled hillside; and, my Englishdoodle, Mango. I will stand in its thick orangish yolk, absorbing its haunting glow, feeling the aloneness and the strangeness that only an eclipse can bring.

Thank goodness this is a rare event.

Because, it's not easy giving up sunshine.

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