Eclipse image by Luc Viatour (wikipedia commons)

Nature is the clear winner in my informal tally of where people want to watch the April 8 solar eclipse. Yes, Western New York is squarely in the path of totality and the excitement is building. Niagara Falls is the big target for – could it be? – 1 million people who will be converging on our region, but there are lots of other beautiful places to watch. 

You might wonder what the big deal is for just 3 minutes or so of solid eclipse action, but I think the whole two-hour-plus process will be interesting and plan to keep a protected eye on most of it.

Not loving the idea of being with thousands or even hundreds of others, I’ve targeted a couple local pocket parks as my options. They’re small and – I hope – obscure enough.

And parks are the clear winners here. Many viewers will converge on Buffalo’s Olmsted park system, which provide vantage points from one end of the city to the other. Others have chosen a newish state park, Knox Farm, which is offering live music, family activities and food vendors as well as grassy spaces from which to view. It’s been sold out for days.

At 3:15 p.m., the sun is high enough to see from almost anywhere – we don’t have a lot of skyscrapers to get in the way and deciduous trees are not yet leafed out. But I can see why people are flocking to places that are covered in plants and – often – near water. 

There is speculation on how much a plant is biologically effected by this event, but it seems that day-blooming plants may close, while, at the leaf level, scientists have noticed disruption in the photosynthetic pathways. It is rather early in the season, but there will be enough active plants around to observe how the sudden light change affects their outward appearance. 

Shadows cast through leafy trees, sometimes called anti-shadows, will appear to be hundreds of tiny crescent-shaped shadows because the gaps between leaves act like pinhole cameras. Don’t think we’ll see this one.

With birds, apparently there’s more buzzing, chirping, and chattering than at any other hour of the day, but then they may suddenly fall silent.

All this points to parks, preserves and big yards as top choices. From what I’ve seen the process of darkening and lightening on the landscape looks the most fascinated and can be viewed without glasses. A lowish mountain range in the right place would be a good thing to have; unfortunately, there are none handy around Buffalo. 

Watching the sun is something we part-shade gardeners do a lot. How little sun can I get away with for these flowering plants?  How long do I have it direct on any particular bed at any particular time?

A day dedicated to the sun makes sense. I will be observing it.