Experiencing a Total Eclipse For the First Time

April 8, 2024 turned out to be one of the most memorable days of my life. Waking up in Burlington, my BFF and I were staying at her mom's place, only minutes from the lake. A quick glance out the kitchen window shortly after 6:15 am revealed purple streaks in the clouds, so we hastily drove to the water.

The sky above Lake Ontario was painted in a true kaleidoscope of colours. Stepping into my familiar role of sunrise photographer, I captured the panorama from a variety of angles. Sharing it with my best friend made it even more spectacular. We agreed that no matter what happened later with the eclipse, we'd already witnessed something extra special.

With clouds rolling in, our drive south to Welland was not as busy as expected. The forecast forced many eclipse chasers to forego the Niagara region and head out toward Kingston and Montreal. My husband's family lives in Welland and our plans included attending a special eclipse event at Heartland Forest Nature Experience.

This location was ideal for eclipse day, with a wide open field for viewing, nature trails to keep us busy while we waited and lots of washrooms nearby. Barely a hint of the sun as the eclipse began, the spectacle remained shrouded behind the clouds. Occasionally someone would shout out - there it is! And we'd rush to get our solar protection glasses back on to find the sun again. 

As I use my phone for all of my photos, I'd clipped on a solar filter which allowed me to take photos and not risk eye damage. The clouds did a great job of shielding our eyes too. As totality approached, we were prepared to be let down. The air rapidly cooled as the sky darkened. My BFF said it felt like the Demonetors from Harry Potter were descending upon us. Unbelievably, a small gap in the clouds gave us a chance to see the moment when the moon completely obscured the sun

Having watched videos of this event beforehand, I thought I was prepared for how exciting it was in real time. Day turned into night, as we started directly at the sun without fear. Myself and many others shouted with excitement, shocked that we got to see it after so much cloud cover leading up to it. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I was overwhelmed by emotion. It's hard to put into words how it made me feel. 

Totality lasted for over three minutes and we were gifted with close to two until the clouds once again hid the show. The horizon appeared as it does during sunset, glowing orange and yellow. All of a sudden, it was light again and the air began to warm up. I'd intended to stay and capture images as the moon moved away from the sun, however the clouds remained stubbornly in front of the show. We packed up our gear and headed back to my in-laws nearby. Ironically, the skies were clear less than an hour later.

Starting the day with a stunning sunrise, spending quality time with my daughter, extended family and my best friend topped off by seeing a total eclipse is one of the best days I've ever experienced in my life. I'm grateful to have made the trip to Ontario for this once in a lifetime event. 

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1 comment

  • My gosh Julie, you had the hairs on my arms standing straight up and my heart racing in anticipation as the totality came ever closer! I truly loved sharing this very special moment with you! Knowing your excitement at being able to be there and what it meant to you was a gift to always remember.

    The sunrise pics from that morning are absolutely stunning!!! I can’t get over the colors! Thanks again for the beauty you share daily but particularly on this awesome day!


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