Storms and Promises

At six AM, the forecast promised rain within the hour. It all went west of town. I live in a heat island, and the effect has been notable this year. Shining storm towers build to the east, grey walls amass to the north and west, and the city gets three drops and a spitter, or at most half an inch while everyone around us is wading. Unless we get a big, juicy, tropical air mass, or a cold-front strong enough to overcome the hot spot, the city is drier than the surrounding area. So I was not surprised when the morning storm skirted past. I walked dry headed and dry footed, under rippled clouds that turned into undershot pink waves. Kites called and soared, and a few doves and other birds voiced their opinion of the morning. The morning cats slunk their way along the houses. Two joggers panted past, intent on their mileage. Without wind, any scent of rain remained under the distant showers. Town smelled like town.

However, come seven thirty, lower clouds began filling in over town. I shrugged and finished skimming e-mail and getting ready to go to work. I needed to grab a few things before my first meeting and to go through books and review papers and so on. It’s that time of year. I heard rain on the leaves outside my office, and rain on the skylights, but just light pit-a-pats, not steady rain or the pounding of a storm’s deluge. The pavement gleamed, but that was it. Another shrug, and I patted the cat and set out.

A brilliant double rainbow filled the sky to the west and slightly south! Black rain hid what lay beyond it as the sun undershot the showers to the east. The inner bow arced completely across the sky, from ground to ground, while the outer one only made it a third of the way, from the southwest up toward the northwest. Both were clearly visible, and glowed. I’ve not seen a rainbow that solid in ages. It was amazing. Enough so that I gave in and sang “Rainbow Connection,” because why not?

When I pulled into my errand, I noticed workers coming out, looking at the sky, then going back in. It turned out that the manager was sending folks out in batches so everyone could see. I trotted in, got what I needed, and trotted out. Both rainbows still gleamed. Traffic moved a bit slower than usual, especially westbound, and I suspect the colors in the sky played a large role. The sky remained blue-black to the west. I almost pulled over to get my camera out of my bag, but decided to wait until I got out in the country on the way to Day Job. Alas, the storm continued at Day Job, so no rainbows.

“Rainbows are visions/ They’re only illusions/ and rainbows have nothing to hide,” says the song. So why was everyone watching, and pointing, and smiling? Well, we need beauty. Rainbows are rare here, especially ones that bright, and doubles rarer still. They began the day on a good note – rain, cooler weather, and colors that sang against the dark background. Even if you are not a follower of Judaism or Christianity, the idea that rainbows are a gift and a promise still has some appeal.

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9 thoughts on “Storms and Promises

  1. Rainbows are the purest form of color. The fact that they are ephemeral makes them even more enthralling.

  2. Storms see to avoid where I live as well. The other night (well early morning, about 2 AM), I was out looking for Perseid meteors. The cloud line was almost directly overhead, just a little to the East of me and the almost full moon lit up the clear part of the sky and a large thunderstorm lit up the cloudy Southeastern part of the sky with frequent lightning from the storm that just missed where I live. Only saw a couple of meteors since it was so bright but the whole scene was spectacular and I can’t really do it justice with words. What an ethereal experience. Rainbows during the day would be just as grand.

  3. Could you see where to find the pot of gold (at the end of the rainbow)? 😉

    • At one point, it was over a bank, at the next intersection it landed on an oil-change shop. Make of it what you will.

      • Interestingly, while looking for sources concerning that story, I found that the earliest Irish usage was in reference to an idiot search.

        IE That’s a dumb idea about getting rich, you’d be better off looking for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. 😉

      • I believe a physicist would explain it by referencing angles and the viewer’s relative position to the sun.

        Well-known lore suggests that Leprechauns would disagree…

  4. Rainbows are beautiful! Doubles are unusual too. Saw quite a few of them in Hawaii over the years, but never really ‘solid’ as you described!

  5. Re: “Rainbows are visions/ They’re only illusions/ and rainbows have nothing to hide,” says the song. So why was everyone watching, and pointing, and smiling?

    The next verse.

    “So we’ve been told and some choose to believe it
    I know they’re wrong – wait and see
    Someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection
    The lovers, the dreamers, and me.”

    I haven’t found it yet, but that won’t stop me from looking…

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