It was not the ideal experience. We struggled to find a good spot and as a result, were frazzled and a little annoyed with each other when we made the sharp turn, pulled up to the crest of a small rise, put on our special glasses, and leaned against the car to watch the sky.

Our goal had been a town 45 miles south where the cloud cover was thinnest but at one point we opened the car’s skylight and Laura donned the fashionable glasses. “It’s started” she said and urged me to find a place to stop. We’d committed to an unfamiliar, two-lane country road. There were no parking lots or rest stops just driveways and the occasional side road that came up too suddenly to make the turn. With one eye on the rearview mirror and no cars behind me I slowed from 50 to 30 and Laura spotted the gravel road between the cornfields.

A couple of 18-wheelers turned up the road while we stood there. Must have been headed for grain silos further down the unmarked road. The cabs were too high for us to see the looks they gave us. We heard cars continue to whizz by on the county road and thought about the folks who were too busy to be able to stop and take in this wondrous sight.

We watched for about 30 minutes, from the little bite out of the sun to the 90 totality percent expected in our area. When clouds thickened and the special glasses no longer penetrated them we headed back down the road. In the next town we found a parking lot and sat in the car watching through the sunroof as thinning clouds allowed us to see the sun reemerge from the moon’s shadow.

I long ago accepted that life offers no ideal experiences, there’s bound to be glitch or two in any situation. But it’s only recently that I’ve come to a deeper understanding of that truth. Experiences are as good or poor based as the interpretation I bring to them.

So for the eclipse, I focused my interpretation on gratitude. Gratitude to my sister-in-law who urged me to buy the special glasses when the opportunity arose rather than wait and hope I’d find them nearer to the event. Gratitude to live near the path of totality and country lanes that rise up around every bend. Above all, gratitude for a life that gives me the time to go outside and stare at the sky with the one I love standing next to me.