Outstanding In Their Field

Outstanding in their field Stng Head-WEB

Since the world did not end with the eclipse as some prophesized, it appears I will have to write another article and farm another season.

I was front and center for the eclipse in southern Indiana. Being a “self-described weather geek,” I felt I should experience this event since I could reasonably expect I may die before the next time it came close to the Midwest. Having worked in a field spraying in 2017 during the 90 percent totality event, this gave me good reference to how much difference that last 5-10 percent of the sun blockage is.

As I watched the moon first clip the edge of the sun to about 50-60 coverage, not much was different. Like 2017, you wouldn’t even know anything was going on. By 90 percent coverage, you could feel how cool it was getting. As 95 percent coverage quickly became totality, it was like the evening sunset was sped up from 2 hours to only 2 minutes. The frogs started singing.

I found it interesting that it was dark immediately around me, but the horizon on 360 degrees had an orange glow as if the sun was rising in all directions.

It did not last long since a cloud blocked the last 30-40 seconds of the total eclipse. Witnessing totality did emphasize how strong the sun really is. I listened to Tom Skilling do an interview on the radio during my trip south. He stated that even 90 percent coverage of the sun still allows about 90 of normal daylight. My viewing confirmed this: The sun is quite the hard worker, even when only giving 10 percent effort. Can you say the same?

My eclipse viewing party was part of an overall trip to Dalton, Georgia, to pick up some special-order farm supplies that would have incurred a $1,600 shipping charge. I traveled through Tennessee for the first time in 40 years. The scenery is beautiful, I can see that as a bonus for those who have fled Illinois for Tennessee.

I witnessed first-hand how congested all the highways were. The interstates were full of trucks, just like Will County. I have been informed that the population has grown so fast the traffic infrastructure has not kept up and that home prices have skyrocketed.

Two nights were spent in Chattanooga before loading the truck in Georgia and coming home. The Aquarium along the Tennessee River was very good. Their historic downtown has much to offer. The first night, it was drizzling, and we thought it was a ghost town; we were the only pedestrians other than the 2-3 homeless that we encountered each block.

The next day, we went to the river walk earlier and in sunny weather, and the downtown was alive with people. The difference was night and day, just like 90 percent eclipse to totality.

A trip to Lookout Mountain and the historic battlefield was very diminished by thick fog. I didn’t think I would like Rock City, the pea soup fog added a unique aura to the visit, even though we had no chance to see 6 states from the viewing area. I did not get to see Ruby Falls or ride the incline railway. Nor did I see any runaway trucks while descending the Monteagle plateau on I-24.

Now a revisit to my last article and tie-in to Earth Day: Now that my hometown of Manhattan can boast that it has a McDonald’s restaurant, plastic debris is not my only nemesis while doing field work this spring. I now notice many bags of refuse thrown out in the ditches and fields with the Golden Arches on the paper bag. The litterbugs used to buy their fast food in New Lenox and threw the garbage out before Manhattan.

As Andy stated on my Facebook page post about my dislike about the interstate congestion in Tennessee, Manhattan and Tennessee have the same dilemma: “Call something paradise; kiss it goodbye.”

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