Friday, March 14, 2008

Rainbow Connection

Who's Been Painting The Sky?

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


Can there be beauty in a threatening grey sky? Yes, as this series of photographs - taken about ten days ago - will show. I was out in the back yard, trying to divine whether the gloomy sky was a portent of the rain we need so desperately. Behind me, however, the sun in the mid-evening western sky was so bright that it was reflecting off the roof tiles of a neighbouring house. I took a couple of shots of the unusual light shining on the tiles and then a few minutes later a rainbow appeared in the east, so I took the shot again, this time including a segment of the rainbow.

So I had dark grey clouds in front of me in the eastern sky, yet behind me the sun was bright. Did we get a drop of rain? Nope. But I was about to go back indoors when I noticed a second rainbow had appeared, so I managed to get two or three shots before it started to fade.


When I was a kid, I remember being open-mouthed in amazement as my mother explained to me that rainbows are actually doughnut-shaped, but because we generally view them from the earth, all we see is a semi-circular arc.

I remember asking my mother how she knew this. Remember, this was long before the internet, long before Google. But my mum was my Google, because she knew everything there was to know and everything that was important to know and she could explain it to me in three languages, English, Latin and French. So she wasn't fussed about being asked such an irreverent question by an inky little schoolboy. And that's when she told me that as a student, she had once seen a full rainbow from a mountain town in India.

"Will I ever see one?" I asked.

"If you're lucky," she told me.

Later, when I completed primary school, I went to high school at St Joseph's College, North Point, in the Himalayan town of Darjeeling. Our school looked out onto an uninterrupted view of Mount Kanchanjunga, the world's third-highest peak, and during my wonderful years there I saw many majestic sights that drove home the message of Nature's power and beauty. But I never saw a full rainbow.

Then I became a sportswriter shortly after I graduated from university and I travelled constantly, flying to one amazing city after another. But finally, in 1982, I saw a full rainbow for the first and only time in my life. I flew to Kathmandu, Nepal, to get an exclusive interview with the just-retired Bjorn Borg (you can read the story of that helter-skelter trip at Interview with Bjorn Borg) and as the Boeing 737 took off from the airfield of the Himalayan kingdom, I looked out from my habitual window seat and I was blessed with a view of an entire rainbow that I will never forget.

Then in October 1987, my wife took a photograph of me at Niagara Falls. Being the meticulous person that she is, Mrs Authorblog motioned me to move until she was able to take the photograph so that it looked as though the rainbow over the Falls was actually coming out of my head. We often look at the shots from that holiday and I grin and say to the kids: "That was the day Mum found her pot of gold at the end of the rainbow."

But I think Mrs Authorblog has got them brainwashed. She just arches her eyebrows and replies, "Yeah, right," and the Authorbloglets echo her in chorus. One day they'll slip up and say "Yep".

77 comments:

The Diva's Thoughts said...

I absolutely love rainbows. I don't see them very often here in Maryland in the US.

Dave Coulter said...

Very nice. This past winter I saw what I would call "partial-double-sun-dogs!" (Now THAT should send you to Google, lol)

Dave Coulter said...

Oh, "sun dogs" are rainbow-y sights caused by ice crystals in the air. They can double up like rainbows too!

More about these:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sun_dog

lime said...

hahahaha, i want to hear more about mrs. authorblog. she sounds like she's got some spunk!

phaseoutgirl said...

Hi David....

Beautiful rainbow! Thanks for the thoughts, am still here, although struggling with getting a lot of things together and trying to find some balance in all that I do... not easy, but I will hopefully be back, soon...

Cecilia

Casdok said...

Beautiful, i love rainbows!

CrazyCath said...

They certainly did find their pot of gold. They are awesome photos David. Best ever for me.
I love rainbows. They remind me of God's promise. And I never knew a full rainbow could be seen on the earth. How amazing that must have been! You lucky man. Did you know that the Bible describes God's throne as being surrounded by a (full) rainbow? Awesome.

Anyway, I actually stopped by (when you distracted me with such beauty there) to say I have linked you in my post re Weekend Wandering but then couldn't get my head around "create a link", so come take a look. It's easier that way. Thanks.

crazycaths

Cowgirl said...

I didn't know that about rainbows being donut shaped! How great that you saw one! I saw a really odd one here on the farm last year - it had an absence of colour! Just shimmery greys. I rubbed my eyes and tried again - but there it was again - all grey! It was freaky!

joan said...

Rainbows are so beautiful. Love these photos.

Daryl E said...

is that a bird on the antenna?

Sandy said...

Such lovely photographs!

Brave Astronaut said...

very nice work. but shouldn't your rainbows go the other way? [Sorry, bad northern hemisphere joke].

Jeff B said...

Laughing at astronaut's comment.

How timely this post is with St Patrick's day just around the corner.

quintarantino said...

Beautiful.
Rainbows always give great photos.

Jamie Dawn said...

What a nice post! Your mom sounds like a very intelligent woman. I'm sure you were in awe of her and probably still have great admiration for all she taught you.
Rainbows are so pretty. You captured some great photos.
It's great that you think you're the pot of gold at the end of your wife's rainbow. She, however, is probably YOUR pot of gold!!
:-)

RuneE said...

On the second picture you got both rainbows very clearly. That is often difficult. Well done - and even better with the text!

Old Wom Tigley said...

Fantastic pictures David.. and very interesting reading. I was also lucky to see a near complete one a few years ago over of all places Manchester England.. just the bottom was out of my view. Not as good as a full one, but none the less one I will Never forget.

Daniel J Santos said...

beautiful rainbows, one excellent collection.

Lee said...

Very nice, David. Rainbows are so special. I still remember when I saw a double one spanning from horizon to horizon. It felt like such a blessing.

Cheers!

Kathryn said...

Beautiful pics and great stories to go along with them.

Mima said...

I had absolutely no idea that rainbows were doughnut shaped, let alone having seen one. At least I now know what to look out for, hopefully at some stage I will get to see one too!

Jules~ said...

Those rainbow pictures are beautiful. Really?...A circle rainbow? I had no idea. I bet that was a sight indeed etched into your minds forever more.

Vi said...

Oh wow, I lovwe the one between to two houses!

SandyCarlson said...

Nothing like a grey sky to hightlight all that beautiful color! I like the nostalgic TV antenna, too, David. Thanks for a great one.

Momma said...

I had no idea that rainbows were donut-shaped! How cool is that?

Some of the most beautiful rainbows I've ever seen were in Oahu. Ever been there?

Peace - D

ellen b said...

Beautiful captures and a wonderful story to go along with it. have a great weekend...

GoneBackSouth said...

Daryl e's commnet just really made me laugh. Never mind the rainbow, is that a bird I see?!

the mother of this lot said...

'My mum was my Google' - I am in tears.

What a beautiful tribute. It's the best part of being a mum, knowing that, for a few years at least, you are the whole world to someone.

Brian in Oxford said...

Nice! I once saw a rainbow on the side of a mountain in Ireland....no sign of a pot o' gold at the base, though.

Pernille's ting og tang said...

I just love the rainbows. And your photos are wonderful!!!

imac said...

Congrats on great full rainbow, what a fitting photo for Skywatch.

come and see mine:)

Your EG Tour Guide said...

David,
Your photos and prose go so well together!

Yolanda said...

I love the rainbow shots. I myself saw one this afternoon but alas didn't have my camera.

Travis said...

I've never seen a full doughnut shaped rainbow, but now that I know they exist I'll be on the watch for them.

Great story and terrific photos.

jillie said...

Not only have I never seen a donut shaped rainbow, I never knew they existed. What stunning pictures you've posted David.

I think you've both found your pot of gold ;o)

Andrea said...

Beautiful raibow capture.

karoline said...

who's been painting the sky??

why lucy in the sky with diamonds...

of course..

beautiful capture of a solitary moment..

Meggie said...

Rainbows are one of nature's most beautiful creations. I never get tired of seeing them and they all seem to be just a tad different.

napaboaniya said...

Dav, gray clouds greet me almost everyday for the past week. But not once did I spot a rainbow.
The pictures of the rainbows you've taken are gorgeous and very defined :)

p/s: GP GP GP GP GP!!! (I'm hyper)lol!

Alan said...

Fascinating. I had no idea they were complete. Being in flat Florida we have no other option than to see only one part.

guild-rez said...

Your mind is your best camera . . .
Go out and take some beautiful pictures.
You really did capture beautiful rainbows..
Thank you..

Carletta said...

Unbelievably Awesome - there's nothing else to say!

Ashley Ladd said...

Great rainbow pics. You took these yourself?

Travis said...

I have always loved rainbows. Very nice photos. Those must have been amazing to see in person although your photos certainly are beautiful.

Sharon said...

Those are beautiful, especially the double. What a great catch! I liked the story, Mrs. A sounds like a card!

Lilli & Nevada said...

Another great story with some amazing rainbow shots. Is that a bird sitting on the antenna?

LUIZ SANTILLI JR. said...

Rainbows give big shots!

These photos are wonderful!

Luiz

Janice Thomson said...

The second photo is absolutely delightful David. I would love to see a full rainbow - that would be divine.

skinnylittleblonde said...

Whoa! That is some amazing photography...I especially love that middle pic. One time...once only, I saw a triple rainbow over the lake while camping. it felt like a hug, but was only an arc. Still, so beautiful. Ironically enough last week, my brother asked me if I was a fairy what would I like to do & I laughed and said...blow rainbows with a whistle ;)

alexander said...

Beautiful rainbow.

Have a great weekend.

Alexander
Alex's World! - http://www.kakinan.com/alex

mrsnesbitt said...

Blogger was playing up last night so I have just managed to post mine! LOL!

Deslilas said...

Marvelous rainbows.
It's difficult to be a bear nowadays.
One man is sued in France, he killed a young female bear Cannelle which was less than 90 centimeters high. He said that it was only to save his life !!!

ArneA said...

THis is a real documentation of the earth being flat. Or have I missed something?
Have a nice weekend down under

Kerri said...

An absolutely wonderful post David....I LOVE the shots....but I love what you said about your Mom...that your Mom was your Google! How Sweet! Mom's are so special!!!!

Marie said...

I love rainbows!

DeeMom said...

David, rainbows still leave me gapped jawed, wonderful post and awesome pictures

Anita said...

How gorgeous!

happyone said...

A perfect rainbow! Absolutely beautiful!

Sonia said...

Just amazing photos!

Deana said...

Rainbows are magical and they make you feel like anything is possible. Thanks for sharing!

Miss Patti said...

that is so cool

Kuanyin said...

My post just went up, and I'm going down the list and you're the first...so what a surprise: we both posted rainbows! Yours are very beautiful!

Truls said...

The doble rainbow is very interesting. I once shot a picture of it, but not as nice as yours.

barman said...

Very beutiful and I love the double rainbow. And as always I love the story that accompanied it every bit as much as your photos.

diane said...

David,
Great story about the rainbows in your life. Wish I could say I remember mine that way.
But what I can say, is every time I see one, I believe I've been blessed. I feel that it is the mark left after God gives the earth a kiss of needed rain~washing away the old and giving us the new.
These are indeed beautiful shots. Makes me feel like I've been kissed today.

Bubba's Sis said...

Absolutely. Gorgeous. You have quite a talent with that camera!

Craver Vii said...

David, I like how you said that your mum was your Google. I love my own mother, but her strength was creativity. More fanciful fiction than a fountain of facts. Even today, we take her stories "with a grain of salt."

P.S.
Kudos to Brave Astronaut for the funny hemisphere joke. I wish I had thought of that!

Akelamalu said...

Love the rainbows and the tale!

leslie said...

Lucky YOU to have been able to get such fantastic shots of that rainbow!

Só- Poesias e outros itens said...

Very nice work
Simple and beautiful!!!

Ju gioli

Misty Dawn said...

I would truly love to meet Mrs. Authorblog (her husband too hehe) - she (and her husband) seem to be truly fantastic and fun!

Oh, and in case you didn't know I was thinking this... these photos are awesome! I LOVE the double rainbow photo!!!

D... said...

Gorgeous pics. And I loved the family dynamics story that went with them!

Vienna for Beginners said...

I a sure the authorbloglets already know their father's worth! :-)
When I was a child, I saw many a rainbow, what with my parent's house set in the middle of flat countryside. I longed to find out one day what they looked like on both ends. I really believed this would be possible.

*~*Sameera*~* said...

The shots are breath-taking!

Have a great week ahead :)

Pato & Pearl said...

indeed you're lucky to ever see a full rainbow..... ;)

P

Indrani said...

I came searching for the post. Mothers are great! I have never seen a full rainbow yet and never knew they existed.

You have such a lot of things to share, and you share them so well, my vocabulary of words to compliment you will not be sufficient.

btw I also liked your comment on the shot your wife had taken. Convey her my regards. :)

Victoria said...

Thank you for sharing this, as I had no idea that a rainbow is actually a full circle. How wonderful! Now I have something new to dream of seeing!