LINCOLN BEACH, Ore. — By 11:30 a.m., around the end of Monday’s complete solar eclipse, fog was just beginning to burn off of Oregon’s central coast. Fishing Rock, ground zero for the eclipse’s first appearance on U.S. soil, had been scattered with camera tripods and revelers in folding chairs quietly watching the event. When the sun vanished, they had emitted a subdued cheer and went quiet again. “The sun is gone! Yay! I never liked the sun!” One little girl had called. Now, only three or four stuck stubbornly to the rocky promontory, to wait out the eclipse’s last nibbles before full brightness arrived again.
In the parking lot, Jefferee Newman, 48, a sexton of a Unitarian Church in Portland, was getting ready to leave. “It’ll take me a while to process what I saw,” Newman said. “There was an interesting sense of calm, being next to the ocean.”
A giant black Maine Coone cat in a harness peered from a perch atop Newman’s backpack. Tolstoy – just five months old – didn’t have any particular reaction to the eclipse, Newman reported, but he’s stayed chill for the journey, and will certainly be along for the next total eclipse to cross the United States, from Texas to Maine, in 2024.
Newman remembers seeing an eclipse as a kid, and trying to watch it unfold in a circle of light cast from a pinhole in a sheet of paper. “I thought it was pretty stupid, just looking at a shadow.” But after today’s shrinking crescent – just visible through the fog, and two minutes of peaceful darkness, “I really want to go to the next one,” Newman said. By then, Tolstoy should be plane-ready. “I was thinking I might get some people together and go to Arkansas or Missouri or something.”
Then, maybe, Newman will get to see the stars come out for a moment in the middle of the day. “That’s the only thing I would have liked to have seen,” he said.