Friday, October 24, 2008

Finding the Rainbows

For about 10 mid-morning minutes every reasonably sunny day, the sunlight streams through a window in the back of my house at just the right angle to catch a little glass ornament that bends the light into mini-rainbows that scatter themselves across my bedroom.

Most mornings I miss the show-- I’m too late, my attention is elsewhere, or I just plain forget.

That’s kind of the way it is with rainbows: you have to look for them.

How many times have you seen a ray of sun emerge at the back end of a fierce storm and immediately heard someone say, “There’s got to be a rainbow out there somewhere,” prompting everyone to crowd the window, craning their necks in owl-esque circles in an effort to catch a fleeting glimpse of dissected light fanned in seven colors across the sky.

Most times we miss the show: we’re too late, our attention is elsewhere, or we just plain forget to look.

I’ve thought a lot about rainbows this week, as I’ve been tracking the weather with a devotion rivaling that of a retiree with the Weather Channel tuned to HD. See, I have plans to go on a thrice-scheduled camping trip this weekend. I’ve been working on making an annual pilgrimage to a favorite camping location since August. Poor campsite availability, rain, and the usual plethora or family commitments have rendered this trip particularly elusive. Considering this much-loved locale is on a lake in the mountains, I don’t need to tell you that it’s now or never, what with the calendar stating we’re a week away from Halloween, and the 10-day mountain forecast hinting at conditions like snow showers.

And a lot of rain, depending on which of the hundreds of forecasts I refreshed my screen proves most accurate. The conversation went back and forth all week: could it really be any worse than Maine? Should we get a refund, and book early for next year? What if the forecast was wrong? Wasn’t there a sunshine icon next to the name of one weekend day just ten minutes ago?

Which, when you think about it, is a dialogue that pretty much mirrors our real-life musings. Oh, sure, we're pretty good at recognizing a sunny day when it comes along, and we can certainly spot a storm brewing on the horizion--but most of life really plays out somewhere between the extremes: it's a partly cloudy (or mostly-sunny, if you happen to be a glass-half-full type) mix of showers and sun, cool and warm, arid and humid. And, frankly, we don't always know what to do with a forecast like that.

But as for the camping trip? We finally just decided that with the hodgepodge of sun and rain they keep showing us, there’s got to be a rainbow in there somewhere—so we’re leaving tomorrow at first light to find it. We don’t want to miss the show.

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