Eclipse Wildness


            Marble Falls      It’s hard for me to believe, but in Arkansas the sun and moon have driven people crazy across the state.  The solar eclipse is expected here in coming days, but the way everyone is acting, someone passing through would think it was tomorrow.

At Walmart #2, the second store opened by Sam Walton in Harrison, Arkansas in the Ozarks, a cashier told us that they had sold out on viewing glasses weeks ago.  Glasses may not be the right word for these eye shields, so I hope you get the point.  A coffeehouse outside of Conway more than 100 miles away was still selling them for $3.99 a pair.

There are special festivals that businesses, chambers of commerce, and local hustlers are promoting everywhere.  We saw a billboard for something big the Sunday before the eclipse with music and food trucks on the day before the event.  The day of the eclipse KABF is bringing the same excitement to the parking lot outside of our studio and building for people to see whatever is possible from Little Rock, which won’t be as dramatic as its path through the Ozarks, but is still likely to be special.

In the Ozarks, if you didn’t get a place to stay weeks and months ago from here to Fayetteville to the northwest or Conway to the southeast, you’re camping.  It was below freezing in the Ozarks in recent days, so gawkers and tourists better hope spring has sprung by then.  Where people would pitch a tent or pull off the road may be an adventure in itself.

Fuel and food may be issues.  I have no doubt that Walmart, Harps, Aldi and other local grocery purveyors are doing everything they can to make a killing on this natural event, but local alerts are already going out about food shortages.  People may have to provision before arriving hundreds of miles from the solar pathway.  We passed one gas station already posting notices that they were out of regular unleaded and only had premium gas to offer.

I remember the last eclipse.  The ACORN Home Savers campaign was negotiating with the principals of Vision, a lease-to-own housing operation, that we believed specialized in predatory housing practices with lower income families.  Our negotiating committee came from Detroit, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, and elsewhere.  We knew the eclipse was going to pass near Columbia, South Carolina, where we were meeting the Vision representatives, so we had come in early and booked into Charlotte, North Carolina and met with our allies with Action NC there as well.  We managed to be on the interstate back to Charlotte to put everyone on their planes home when the eclipse hit its peak.  We weren’t the only ones who pulled off on the shoulder with our cheap sunglasses.  The roads were empty as everyone did the same.  It was amazing!

Charlotte and Columbia are pretty good-sized cities, so they seemed to take it all in stride.  The Arkansas Ozarks are low slung, older mountains and Harrison, for example, passes for a big town with hardly 13,000 people.  Others nearby are even smaller.

I’m looking forward to seeing the reports.  I’ll be in Toronto and Philadelphia that weekend and running for a plane to New Orleans.  I have my fingers crossed that Arkansas and everywhere else has clear skies and good weather for all who want to witness one of the reminders that the sun and nature still rule the world, no matter the hubris of mankind.