Southern Agenda

Total Eclipse of the Ark 

An illustration of a sun and a moon overlapping over people wearing sunglasses

Illustration: Tim Bower

“It’s going to be like Memorial Day weekend on steroids,” says Austin Albers, the president of the Buffalo Outdoor Center in Ponca. He’s referring to April 8’s total solar eclipse, when nearly two-thirds of the Natural State, including Little Rock, Hot Springs, and Jonesboro, will fall under the roughly 115-mile-wide sash of totality that extends from Mexico to Canada (in the States, from Texas clear up to Maine). By dint of cosmic coincidence, for this swath of the country, the humble April weekend has been injected with the chutzpah of a dozen public holidays. Arkansans began planning early, and the state has been rolling out the Razorback red carpet: Little Rock’s Lost Forty Brewing has crafted a helles bock dubbed Total AR’clipse of the Heart; at the Greene County Museum, staffers brought the sometimes-traveling Paragould meteorite to its home county for the first time in nearly a century; and thanks to twenty-seven state parks scattered across the totality, there’s no shortage of riverside, mountaintop, or tree-lined vistas from which to take it all in. Amid all the hubbub, however, it’s really just about that four-ish-minute window of moody daytime darkness that, for many folks, comes but once in a lifetime. And all you have to do is (cautiously) look up.