Remembering rainbows

Published 3:30 pm Friday, July 9, 2010

How many rainbows have you seen in your lifetime? Too many to count, but for some reason we tend to remember some of them. They always get our attention and admiration. They go back a long way, because it is recorded that after the Great Flood, God set his bow in the sky (Gen. 9:13) as a promise that he would never do that again.

Fran and I have photographed them time after time, trying to capture the color, but even the digital cameras and PhotoshopT cannot do them justice.&bsp; I well remember the first one I saw from my airplane: a full circle of the familiar colors!&bsp; Not to mention the sun dogs we have spotted on occasion. The marvel to me is that God does this (and sunsets!) with nothing but light and water! And those colorful pictures from the Hubble telescope are only light-no water in space!

All kids remember being told that there is a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow. Anyone who tries to go to that point discovers that it moves with him, or the bow disappears altogether. This fable inspired an e-mail I got that shows the end of a rainbow resting on a portable toilet. My kind of pot luck!

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How about musical tributes to rainbows? They have inspired composers and lyricists. We just watched a TV documentary about the creation of the motion picture The Wizard of Oz, and learned that a newly assigned producer rescued Somewhere, over the Rainbow from the cutting room floor, so that everyone now knows and loves that little song. Judy Garland sang it for us all of her life, usually by request.

A young pianist who appeared with the St. Louis Symphony followed his concerto performance with a lovely rendition of Somewhere . . . to polite applause, but I still remember his playing of it. It had both the nuances and virtuosity of a Chopin Nocturne, without overwhelming the little tune.&bsp; When leaving the concert hall, I overheard some musical snobs grousing that he had played pop music at a serious music concert! I think most of us are serious about our popular music, dont you?

Many pop and hymn tunes have been lifted from&bsp; the classics, so we have Im Always Chasing Rainbows adapted from Chopins Fantasy Impromptu. A teen-aged girl played the Fantasy for me and promptly apologized for a few missed notes. I assured her that for me, the musicality of her playing overcame any little technical mishaps. Engineers have emotions, too, and not just for machinery!&bsp; I would rather hear music played as music rather than as a mechanically perfect exercise.

As music is a treat for the ears, the rainbow is a treat for the eyes, often referred to nowadays as eye candy. I get e-mails all the time billed as eye candy, and it may be airplanes, old cars, gardens, or in some cases, human females. Ah, but I digress (males are easily distracted, you know). The amazing thing to me as engineer but wannabe artist, is how color is offered to our eyes and what they do with it.

We learned that the presence of ALL colors makes WHITE light (transparent), but makes BLACK pigment (opaque). I am fascinated by water color pictures and by the luminosity of oil paintings by the masters. I am blown away by the technology that allows a camera to capture light and then with only 0s and 1s to and from a computer an ink-jet printer puts an image on paper that our eyes compare favorably with what we saw.&bsp; Rainbow, anyone?