During the afternoon of the first day of June in this rather unprecedented year of 2020, the usual thunderstorms swept through the Livermore area with their typical angry bursts of strong winds and very localized intense and brief rain showers. Several storms had passed nearby—wetting some lands and totally missing others.
Evening replaced the afternoon as still another cell formed over the high country and began its rapid run to the east. It had lined up with me and was building and thundering as it came dead on. Soon, large heavy raindrops pelted the roof and windows while being driven sideways by excited downdrafts of wind all creating their own sonic storm. The cell moved quickly, and the rain ended abruptly. It was a fair amount of quick moisture—enough to give the prairie a fleeting drink.
By 8:00 pm, the action was well to the east and the sun had slipped under a cloud bank on its way to the western horizon. The damp ground began to glow in the rich amber light moments before sunset. As is sometimes the case, those final light rays struck falling rain droplets in the eastern sky and produced a wondrous effect. At first, a short leg appeared close to the ground towards the north. Rapidly, it grew in height and intensity as the amount of direct sunlight widened and spread. Its top began to curve over to the right. Soon, the other leg began to reveal itself on the southern horizon as the retreating storm continued to dance with the setting sun until the two legs met and a complete arch was visible. A secondary wispy ghost showed up momentarily on the outside of the left leg.
Five clicks of the camera and considerable digital magic yielded a photographic panorama of a tall broad semicircle emitting the familiar and the welcomed bands of refracted light we call rainbows. Some may see it as the symbol of a sacred promise made long ago. Some may see it as a beautiful real-world demonstration of optical physics and the human’s ability to perceive it. And even others may see it as a reminder that nature continues with its ongoing dynamic procession. It can be observed or ignored; enjoyed or dismissed; a source of inspiration or an irritant. It is entirely up to us as to how we decide to see.