Chasing totality in all its forms

Last month my husband and two of our kids went to Ohio to visit family and be in the "zone of totality" for the solar eclipse. It was difficult for our middle daughter, a high schooler, and me, to take a day away from school and work. We had a memorable experience here. We put on protective glasses and had all sorts of fun with coworkers and friends. It was great.

But when I saw the photos and heard accounts from my parents' backyard in Ohio with everyone together as the sky went dark and the air got colder, I wished I could have been there. I was fascinated with how porch lights automatically came on and the neighbors cheered over fences. Like a wonder struck child, I couldn't get enough of the stories, "tell me again about the lighting". They described a sensation of seeing sunlight out on the horizon, like a sunset in all directions, where totality ended.

"That's where we were," I sighed, "where totality ended". To be fair, we were at 94 percent magnitude here in Hinsdale and it was awesome. But the minutes of full darkness, the energy and feel of it all has me intrigued and committed to chasing totality the next time around, several decades from now.

As luck would have it, I don't have to wait long for the next natural phenomena. The cicadas are emerging! And, for the first time in 221 years, parts of Illinois will have two broods at once.

With a sort of laugh or cry spirit - and still craving eclipse totality - I've decided to embrace the cicadas. Yes, they're loud, harmful to young trees and really pesky with their beady red eyes. Our dogs will eat them, our backyard barbecues will be ruined and our shoulders will become landing zones. And yet, I'm leaning in.

The cicadas, like the eclipse, help mark time. In a world that spins awfully fast, these patterns and rhythms served up by nature are anchoring. I like that it makes me remember the 2004 cicadas when we lived in Washington, D.C. Snow plows were needed to clear streets and windshield wipers to drive. It was our son's first summer. I have a photo of him, in a stroller, next to a white picket fence covered with cicadas.

When I think of cicadas, I can feel that fleeting, sweet stage of life. We were new to parenthood, in our first house and living in the nation's capital. As time marches on, I desperately want to etch each moment into my heart's memory. If the cicadas provide the backdrop to this particular version of now, then I'm all for it. I'm chasing totality. Bring on Cicada Summer!

- Carissa Kapcar of Hinsdale is a contributing columnist. Readers can email her at [email protected].