Chasing Rainbows in NCW
With plenty of party sunny skies with passing April showers in the weather forecast for the days ahead, conditions are shaping up to be perfectly ripe for a little rainbow hunting!
Now more often than not, rainbows aren't really something we can search down; the vast majority of them simply appear before our eyes from seemingly out of nowhere.
But these colorful atmospheric phenomena always form due to a simple set of required variables and conditions. So while we might not really ever willfully set out to chase rainbows until they materialize out of thin air, it is possible to put yourself in the correct position to see one.
But let's set that aside for just a bit so we can talk about why it's always great to find and look upon a rainbow.
For thousands of years, people have been assigning a deeper meaning when in the presence of a rainbow.
There are longstanding beliefs associating rainbows with peace, hope, good fortune (like the whole leprechaun and pot of gold thing;-), and new beginnings.
In today's world, the rainbow is also considered highly symbolic of inclusivity and diversity, and is an all-embracing icon of unconditional love and friendship.
Every time I see a rainbow, I am always reminded of a passage from a song by one of those obscure rock bands that my all-consuming eccentric side so readily identifies with.
The song is called Genesis and is performed by a band called Trytan, a Chicago-area act featuring who many consider to be the greatest dead ringer for Rush's Geddy Lee you'll ever hear.
Within the track's closing minutes, part of its finale' includes the lyrics, "Look up at the rainbow. God's promise in the sky."
The line is tied to Revelations 4:3 in the Bible, which reads "Even around the throne of God, there is pictured a majestic rainbow—used to communicate the glory of God."
Even though I am not a follower of Christianity or any other specific orthodoxy, as a deeply spiritual person, these words have always resonated in a very profound way with me. And since it is my belief that even the most devoutly-scientific among us also feel the stirrings of a connection to that which is entirely ineffable when glimpsing a rainbow, I think they pretty much say all that needs to be said; that rainbows are a calling to be thankful for being here to have this experience, no matter what you believe or how you choose to go about it.
Okay, now let's get back to talking about how to find a rainbow.
First of all, like any good recipe, we'll need a list of the proper ingredients. And in the case of rainbows, there's only a few things which are necessary to cook one up...in a manner of speaking ;-)
The primary ingredient in a rainbow is right in its name - rain! Actually, falling rain, water spray or virga (a mass of streaking rain appearing to hang under a cloud that evaporates before reaching the ground) to be more precise.
The second thing we need is sunlight, and we need that to be shining directly on the element of precipitation, whatever it might be. We also can't have any clouds or fog between the sunlight and the droplets of hydration.
And the last thing we need could be considered like the temperature we might bake a cake at, in this case it's 42 or lower, as in the big lightbulb in our barometrical Easy-Bake Oven - the sun - must be at an angle that's 42 degrees in elevation or less. You can test this by looking at your own shadow. If it's longer than your actual height, you're good to go!
Alright, we're all set! It's time to go rainbow hunting! That is, whenever the rain is falling and the sun is shining somewhere nearby all at once.
Now let's get inspired by having a look at a few rainbows that I've encountered on my travels right here in North Central Washington!
I found this rainbow on Sagebrush Flats Road between Palisades and Ephrata after a passing thundershower!
For a brief time, I actually lived on the Florida panhandle, and I certainly saw my share of rainbows there! This is a close up of one of them :-)
Wow! Now this one was truly stunning! I captured it coming home from work one early fall day in East Wenatchee around Sterling Middle School. A classic full archer with a faint, 51-degree twin!
Okay, I know the rainbow is about as hazy as the clouds behind it, but this was truly one of the most remarkable atmospheric phenomena I have ever seen! It's called "cupid's arrow", and is extremely rare. It happens whenever horizontal lightning crosses the path of a rainbow and is said to portend of a coming love interest. Sure enough, about a week after seeing this, a friend set me up on a date that went very well indeed!