Tasty rainbow

August 17, 2010


I’m not going to go all unicorns and glitter on you, but Friday I was treated to the best rainbow I’ve ever seen. Not because it was double—I’ve seen triple—but because of its altitude and degrees.

My office suite is on an eleventh storey corner. We have pretty good sightlines. From my desk I look to the northwest which is now right across the bow of the Target Field, the new home of the Minnesota Twins baseball team. I can see the left field upper deck from where I sit. With every day game, it is rubbed in my face that I’m stuck at work and 44,000 other people aren’t.

Probably two or three times a day otherwise, I find myself standing at the kitchen window with looks northish over the fairly new Minneapolis Public Library Central Branch (which sports a green roof and is LEED certified), and toward the Mississippi River and iconic Grain Belt Brewery sign. Minneapolis’ Federal Reserve Bank is also in view. There is some interesting public art on its grounds.

But last Friday, it was Mother Nature who was in the spotlight. This has been a pretty hot, humid summer, and the latest stretch was approaching the end of its second week when the second of three quick-succession fronts rolled through.

Being downtown, we quite often don’t get the severe aspect of weather, but this summer we’ve definitely been getting the downpours. Friday we got another one. At one point in college I was a meteorology major. The weather still fascinates me. I look out five windows that look westish while sitting at my desk slaving away. I pay attention.

The cats and dogs had been falling for a good ten or fifteen minutes, but as with many summertime thunderstorms, the sun was poised to quickly follow on the heels of the line of clouds. I knew what was coming.


I stationed myself at the kitchen window and waited. The colored arc began to appear. I had my iPhone at the ready. I was rewarded. 

People know I’m excitable anyway. So when I started shrieking “Rainbow! Rainbow!” they didn’t pay too much attention. When I modified it to, “Freaky rainbow! Come look at this! You won’t be sorry!” I got some results.

I figure there were two things at work. First as I said, we’re on the eleventh floor, higher up than my usual rainbow viewing vantage point. And second, I was watching the rain finishing, with the trailing 99% humidity. I was on the front line of rainbow formation, and I was expecting it.

But I wasn’t expecting what I was presented with.

What I first noticed was that the rainbow was low and close. So low and close that while the zenith of the arc was above the library, the ends went behind the corners of the library (look closely at the left-jutting cantilever). And when I followed the left end of the arc, it came around to the street in front of the building kitty corner to mine. It was a 135° degree rainbow. I wasn’t quite coordinated enough to get a photo of that. But other people saw it, too.

I completely understand that some of you looking at this photo are scoffing to yourself that this is just some Photoshop trickery. If I hadn’t witnessed it myself, I’d be skeptical of its authenticity, too.

I have witnesses. Also, take time to notice and appreciate the small things.


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