I didn't see rainbows as a kid. I saw pictures in children's books, but not the real thing. Probably two many trees. I spent most of my life in Eastern coastal states. 

In the seventies, a woman who worked for a manufacturer my father and I represented came out from Indiana to work for us. She'd grown up in Nebraska. She'd never been East, and at first she found it claustrophobic because she couldn't really see the sky. I didn't know what she meant. I looked up and saw it. But she meant not just between trees and rooftops. At some point the Superman movie with Chris Reeve came out and she said it looked like the farm he lived on as a boy. 

In the early nineties, my wife finished her Ph.D. J was born and we were finding out the extent of his disabilities in slow motion. My wife wanted to do something other than worrying full time, so she started checking out faculty jobs. Much to her surprise, she landed one at Purdue, so we headed out to North Central Indiana. The terrain there is pancake-flat; the only hills are where rivers and creeks carve out valleys. It's so flat I wondered where water went when it rained - there was literally no downhill. Turns out it forms enormous shallow puddles in cornfields. 

The land is flat and not heavily treed. Really, the landscape is kind of bleak. What makes up for that is that the sky is panoramic. It's huge. Now I knew what the Montana license plates that said Big Sky meant. It's Make You Feel Insignificant big. It's so big you can see fronts coming. It's like the difference between a TV set and IMAX. 

And one of the things you can see is rainbows. Out there, I saw full doubles. I once saw one and wanted to stay outside until it dissipated, but fifteen minutes later it was still there. And one was so bright a photo of it made the front page of the local paper - in black and white. Dead serious. 

We saw enough of them over the years that my wife began to know when to look for them. I hadn't bothered to think about it, but I knew too. 

My wife came home from work today and mentioned that she'd forgotten her IPad at the office. I knew she was kind of lost without it and I was going to pick up Chinese food so I told her I'd go get it. Her office is nearly half an hour east of here and the Chinese takeout is in the opposite direction, but along the same highway. So I leave the house and start to drive and it starts raining. By the time I get to her office it is pouring. I have to roll down the window to wave her ID at the sensor that opens the gate to her parking lot and just that action gets my left side soaked. I work through a jammed zipper on my old raincoat and run in. When I come out, it's still raining but not hard. 

Now I'm driving west along a commercial highway and the sun breaks through. It's quite late, like nearly 7:30. It's in my eyes and I encounter a driving condition I've never seen before (which is kind of amazing): because the road is wet where I am, the sunlight reflects off the road surface. The bright sun is in my eyes and a column of bright sunlight goes down from it down the center of my lane straight to me. I'm holding one hand up to block the sun and I'm fumbling with sunglasses with the other. 

I know what I expect to see, but I'm heading west. I know I've soon got to head north over the Susquehanna to get to a real highway heading west. I want to go north, not just to get the sun out of my eyes but to get a chance to glance east. I take the exit, wait for a view, look to the right - and it's even bright through my sunglasses. I take a picture or two with my phone from the drivers' seat, then pull off and go into a parking lot to get a few more shots.

I'n case you don't know when and where to look for them, the best time to see them is late in the day, if it's raining or just been raining and the sun comes out. Find a place with a long view and look eastward. If those are the conditions and you don't see one, wait a few minutes. 


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Comment by Steel Breeze on June 1, 2017 at 6:24am

was coming outa the bank some years ago,and saw a full double,end to end on the horizon,with a funnel cloud dead center......but,i dont own a camera.....

Comment by koshersalaami on June 1, 2017 at 7:21am


Where geographically was this? And we're people heading to basements because of the cloud?

Phones make the difference now. I always have a camera. 

There have been many times previously I'd wished I'd had one or that I remembered that a phone can zoom. 

The shot I have in my mind's eye wasn't a weather shot. I'd graduated high school and was going to head off for college in a couple of days. Friends and I went to Glen Echo Park in Maryland, just outside DC. A lot of us played chess and two of my friends were playing. The light was dimming and so they went to the closest light source, which was a functioning carousel. Their two silhouettes sitting on the ground, one tall and big and leaning back on his hand, the other cross legged, skinny, with curly hair, hunched over the chessboard,  back lit by a swirling carousel was such a study of motion vs. stillness. 

Comment by Maui Surfer on June 1, 2017 at 7:26am
Comment by Steel Breeze on June 1, 2017 at 7:28am

bout 60 miles south of Chicago....

funnel was maybe 6 miles closer thn the bows....

my $15 flipphone takes laughable pix so i dont bother...

Comment by Maui Surfer on June 1, 2017 at 7:33am

Huge part of life here:  https://youtu.be/sCNSvRzzK0E

Comment by JMac1949 Today on June 1, 2017 at 7:52am

R&L... In my life I have seen any number of spectacular sunsets, but I cannot recall any of them as extraordinary as one sunset I witnessed out in the middle of the oil patch.  We’d finished the day’s work and stuffed our faces with meatloaf, red beans and mashed potatoes.  The Captain had the vessel underway heading to tie up to a platform for the night and the divers were sitting around the salon playing cards.  Since I’d run out of clean clothes, and the washing machine was broken, I decided to take a gamble and improvise by putting my dirty clothes into a big piece of old fishing net, tying it off with a 3/8 inch poly rope and tossing them overboard to let five miles of the Gulf wash through them.  It worked, and after I laid everything out on deck to rinse it down with fresh water, I wrung out my laundry and tossed it into the dryer.

It was then, sitting alone on the stern, smoking a cigarette that I noticed the pink, orange and yellow banks of clouds along a squall line off to the port side.  I watched them change color as I smoked and when I finished the cigarette, it looked like something from a Turner painting.  I flipped the butt over the side, stood up on the deck, applauded and yelled, “Author, Author!”

When I turned to go check my laundry, I was blown away to see another squall line on the southwest horizon, with deep purple, red, orange and pink canyons of clouds with not one but two overlapping rainbows.  I stood there in humble silence, drinking it in and then for some reason I walked into the salon.  One of the apprentice diver’s who worked as a tender looked at me and snarked, “Whatcha been doing out there hippy, smokin’ dope?”

I looked at him and quietly said, “The closest thing I ever had to a religious experience.”

“What, smokin’ dope,” asked the crew chief.  “No, twin rainbows at sunset,” I said, “Go out and take a look.”

Everybody put down their cards and walked out on deck and the snarky apprentice nearly fell on his ass scrambling below deck to retrieve his 35mm Canon.  Seven redneck oil patch peckerwoods whose entire range of conversational interest was work, money, sex, cars, football, fishing and hunting stood around and marveled at the wonder of the simple play of light upon some clouds on the horizon.  Even our crusty old taciturn Captain came out on the flying bridge to share in the spectacle... excerpt from 1973: “Worm,” Four Months before the Mast with Rednecks

Comment by JMac1949 Today on June 1, 2017 at 10:32am

Love the colt pic!  R&L

Comment by koshersalaami on June 1, 2017 at 11:25am

The colt picture is epic

Comment by Boanerges on June 1, 2017 at 1:28pm

I see I am far from alone in appreciating Ma Nature's wonders. Nice work, Kosh. (And JMac's right about the colt photo.)


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