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The invisible rainbow

Yesterday, we drove to school through a rainstorm. I went a convoluted route because I had to drop off kids at two schools instead of just one, which meant I approached the K-8 school from the east. To the west, just past the lake, was a rainbow. I had Ryley snap a few photos with my phone, which he hated. I ruined his enjoyment of the rainbow by making him into my Instagram-moment monkey. Mental note: Teenage boys who want their hands on your smartphone 99.99999999% of the time prefer sunlight refracted by water droplets in the shape of an arc.

The arrow points helpfully

Everyone else admired the rainbow sufficiently. After dropping off the kids, the little guys and I drove toward home. The rainbow lasted for a really long time, bright and thick, with brilliant delineated colors. Archie said it was following us. I agreed.

This morning was sunny and clear. The Color Kittens would say it was ‘wild with sunshine.’ Teddy chirped from his seat, “I see a rainbow!”

I looked around and asked him where he saw the rainbow.

“In the sky!” he shouted.

He must think I’m really dense, not aware rainbows are commonly found in the sky. But we also see them when light refracts through etched and beveled glass on our front door. It’s a giant prism. This happens every late afternoon late spring through early fall, dependent on the sun’s position in the sky. I’ll glance down and see a rainbow on the back of my hand or my foot. The little kids try to rake rainbows out of the carpet. They let the rainbows paint their faces. Every color exists in those patches and splotches.

When the sun sinks low and away, they’re gone.

“I see a rainbow!” I should shout from my seat. Puzzled, others might look around and ask where. On the floor, in my hair, on the wall where Archie scribbled, on my mashed potatoes, undulating over a balled-up sock, on the front of the third step in the staircase. Don’t you see it? I do, those flashes of beauty briefly intruding. I rake them up with my eyes and fold them inside.

3 comments to The invisible rainbow

  • Ratna gupta

    Love this post. I saw the rainbow yesterday too and because of all that is going on I thought it was sign from above that all will be fine. Such an eloquent post – love your writing

  • I pulled over to snap pics of our rainbow and made it my new cover photo on FB. I did the dirty work, my kids might have gotten a photo of the ground. Ha. No, they’re better with the camera than that.

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