By Cathy Johnson
(Editor’s note: This is a reprint of a column that appeared in 2012. I was lucky enough to have a repeat of the experience last Friday. Maybe you shared it, too.)
One of the benefits of running or walking for fitness early in the morning involves the surprises that Mother Nature provides. To be sure, there are the rogue rain showers that seemingly pop up out of previously invisible clouds. We won’t even mention the icy patches awaiting the improperly shod winter runner or walker. And heaven forbid the glimpse of the black and white personification of stench, the skunk. These examples are of what I call the dark side of nature. But the other morning, last Wednesday to be precise, I was the beneficiary of one of nature’s most beautiful and most ephemeral gifts, what I like to call my private rainbow.
The weather was what the meteorologists would call “partly cloudy.” The temperature had cooled down quite magnificently during the night, and it was a good morning for a run. Turning right onto Woodward, I couldn’t help but notice the rising of the sun, which painted the underbellies of the clouds in the east a gorgeous shade of coral. Ah, I said to myself, red sky in the morning……and continued on my way.
The weekday route always brings me back on Woodward, going west toward home. And for those of you who drive that tree-lined avenue, you know the shade and shelter that those trees provide. Running along, minding my own business, not really worrying about traffic because, honestly, who else is up at that hour of the morning, I looked through the break in the trees, and, behold, there it was, directly ahead, a bit off to the north, painted against the slate gray clouds, a rainbow….just for me.
I’m sure there is a meteorological explanation for this phenomenon: the angle of the rising sun, the moisture content of the cloud bank, whatever. I don’t even remember covering the majority of the blocks that I ran westward, gazing at the rainbow. I only know that my heart was light, and my feet must have been even lighter.
At each glance, the rainbow appeared to become more defined, the stripes of color more vivid, and yes, it grew, til it touched the tops of the trees on the horizon. Not the whole arc of a complete rainbow, it was just half. But what a magnificent half.
I finished my run with a climb up Dexter (a hill at the end of a run builds character, among other things), and proceeded to cool down and stretch a bit, glancing over my right shoulder all the while, to see if my rainbow was still there. And it was.
As I came to the corner at Fuller, I encountered my neighbor Amy, who also participates in morning fitness. “Did you see the rainbow?” was the first thing she said. And it was no longer just “my” rainbow, but that didn’t matter because she told me what seeing a morning rainbow meant to her, and it was both profound and beautiful.
Sunrise rainbows are rare. They are a blessing to those who are privileged to see them. But unless you are out of bed and out on the road on your feet, a morning rainbow will never belong to you.