The Sky’s the Limit

My mother was born as the earth passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet in 1910. The comet had been reported in newspapers as an “evil eye in the sky”. “Comet May Kill All Life on Earth,” one headline shouted. Mass hysteria occurred in some places. I prefer to picture my grandmother looking up at the sky in wonder. I choose to believe she would have seen it as an auspicious time for her oldest child to enter the world. My grandparents weren’t wealthy and it was early in the twentieth century, so I suspect my mother was born at home in their rented apartment in what was known as Madison, Wisconsin’s “Bloody Fourth Ward”. She had sisters living nearby. Maybe they were with her. Certainly in those days one of her brothers wouldn’t have been expected to step into a midwife role. I’ve got astrological events on my mind today. I’m excited because our whole family has plans to travel to see the total solar eclipse next month. We did that as a group when the last one was visible in this country in 2017, but at that time it only meant a couple of hours of car travel to be able to be in the path of totality There were large-scale fires in central Oregon that August but just as time for the eclipse arrived, the wind blew the smoke away and we had beautiful clear skies. This time it involves arrangements for our different family groups, twelve of us in all. Things were put in motion nearly a year ago when we planned this. Hotel rooms secured. Plane reservations made. Rental cars reserved. If I had unlimited funds at my disposal, I could easily see myself traveling to every total solar eclipse. The next one visible in this country won’t be until 2044 and I suspect I won’t be around to see that. So for now, I’m hoping for clear skies in April while I wait for the sun and moon to perform their magic.


Photo courtesy 1980supra at

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