The real story of the eclipse was the wood ibis. Yep, that wood ibis, the lanky stork like denizen of the shallows and close relative of the spoonbill.
We left ourselves 4 hours to make the 2 hour drive (on most days) to the black stripe on the map as the eclipse passed through South Carolina. After making fairly good time for 2 hours, we bailed on making it the final 15 miles after the third hour on the road netted only 3 miles, opting instead to find a nice spot to stop and eat in Murrell’s Inlet, SC.
The food and service were excellent and we made friends with everyone we talked to. We reached the 99% point, only 10 miles or so from the black stripe on the map, path of totality, or whatever. Thus, it never got pitch black. But it became increasingly spooky as a twilight mood hit…
The first wave of ibises came by when the moon was over halfway into the sun. The groups numbered from a handful to about a dozen, and they sailed silently past, looking like they were on a mission. Every 10 or 15 minutes they made another appearance, probably about 75 birds total, though I feel sure we had many repeats. Were they thinking of settling down for the night? Or were they interested in giving us lots of photo ops?
The big deal about the ibis lay in the pages of the portable edition of the late Ted Andrews’s Animal Speak. He enumerates the meanings and messages carried to us by our furry, feathery, and scaly friends. We got our copy from the car and it said, “Healing, magic, and protection surround you. Take on opportunities to learn new healing and magical arts.” Woohoo!
Some folks predicted Woe of the Eclipse in their forecasts- we’d have the wool pulled over our eyes, the moon pulled over our sun- but we were having none of that! With all the people on the road aiming for a similar destination (see black stripe of total vindication above), plenty of opportunities arose for folks to lose their cool. Throughout the day, whether on the road or elsewhere, civility and comeraderie ruled the day. We are all residents on a planet who’s giving us a highlight show. What’s not to love?
The dreamy quality of Kathy’s picture above captured the magic of the day for us. Look closely to the right of the birds and you can make out the small image of the eclipse reflecting off the eclipse glasses back at the lens!
Our trip down to Oak Island was truly magical, and don’t forget: the best is yet to come!