And then I was reminded of today's date: the tenth of the then. Exactly five years ago to this day, on 10/10/10, I saw a truly amazing rainbow. I was living in a different part of the town and had gone on one of my regular walks up to the top of the hill in the country park just across the road. I often did this after work, always by myself, because I really enjoyed being in nature. Sitting at the top of the hill was like the dessert at the end of a meal – the most enjoyable part. The simple seat there faced west and had an uninterrupted view across the park towards the train station, meaning it was a fantastic vantage point to watch the sun set, especially when there were clouds so the sky would become streaked with orange and pink.
That particular day, the sunset was magnificent. The sky was still a vibrant blue in one direction, yet there were huge burnt orange and deep pink clouds towards the west, which felt as if they were coming towards me. I sat for what seems like ages, marveling at the beauty of the entire scene.
Inner guidance that led to awe
After about 20 minutes I got up to leave and began walking down the hill. I was half way down when for some unknown reason something made me stop. I felt compelled to turn around. Now, I had done that walk and sat in that spot possibly a hundred times, and yet I'd never wanted to turn around and look back up the hill. Perhaps it was my own inner voice prompting me to, or something larger.
Either way, I'll never forget it, as it caused me to gasp, and made my heart start pounding. Right above where I'd been sitting was an enormous rainbow, unlike any other I'd seen before or have seen since. It was incredible. The exact angle of the sun and gathering of the clouds emphasised the red and orange hues in and around it, and I remember thinking it looked slightly menacing. I know that sounds strange, but it wasn't the usual clear, bright, happy looking rainbow you usually see. It had a Turner-esque quality to it (and I wish I'd had a camera but I'd gone out with only my door key). I felt as if I was being shown a gift, something so uniquely beautiful, as if God, or whoever runs this universe, had tapped me on the shoulder and said 'Hey, you thought that was amazing, check THIS out!' Had I not turned around I never would have seen it, and for that I was and still am grateful. Nature is the only thing that truly inspires me with its beauty and wonder. I've always had a thing for taking pictures of the sky, especially sunsets and rainbows, and could gaze at the moon for hours on end (in fact I have done before, lying on the living floor of my flat at the time, in the dark, watching the bright white moon pass from window pane to window pane).
Craving a connection with nature
I know I sound like a right hippy raving about rainbows, but they never fail to amaze and delight me and I confess that as I write this, I'm actually crying. I have no idea why other than to guess that perhaps my soul is longing for that re-connection to the beauty of nature. Very rarely do I go out for a walk like I used to. I don't think I realised how much I need it – how much it feeds me. I've always lived quite close to either woods or a park – somewhere I can quickly be surrounded by trees. Now, even though I do live on the outskirts of town, the only large wooded area closeby also happens to double up as an army shooting practice ground. When I first moved to my current abode, I went walking there not realising it was used by the army. Halfway through the walk, and well into a large field, I started to wonder what the signs were for around the edge, facing outwards towards the road. When I finally came up close with one and walked round to the other side to see what it said, I was confronted with a huge image of a bomb exploding, with a red line across. My mind knew it was just a sign, but my body starting freaking out, worrying I was going to step on some live ammunition, or that target practise might start up any second! So I freaked out. I suddenly felt really scared and began legging it back towards home. A few hours later I broke out in hives all over my arms and chest. That had never happened before, and I'm still convinced it was down to the shock of finding myself on a battleground and feeling afraid, rather than being stung by any of the nettles or insects in the woods there (I've had nettle rash before and this was different). And even though I now know the army always put up red flags around the site, and lock various gates when they are in there, I've never wanted to walk there again as it just doesn't feel right.
Rainbow clouds and magical moments
But luckily, where I work now has some beautiful paths that go through the woods. Even though I could quite easily work through every lunch break due to the amount of work there is, at least a couple of times a week I make myself go for a stroll, to breath in oxygen-enriched air thanks to the trees and river, and to just feel more grounded. And, the other day when I was out, I saw a small rainbow, or what I like to call a 'rainbow cloud' because they are like multi-coloured smudge in the sky, not a full-blown ark that reaches to the ground.
There was a time I used to think rainbows were signs. I often used to see them at pertinent moments, such as when feeling down and needing a boost. Logically, I know they are not produced purely for me or to provide any kind of meaning to a situation – they're only there due to certain whether conditions. But still, I felt like rainbows added an element of magic to my life - and who doesn't want that? So for all the sunset/sunrise and rainbow lovers out there, here are a few atmospheric pictures I thought you might like. I know it's not the same as actually seeing it with your own eyes, but I hope you enjoy them...
|Sun rising out of the back bedroom window of my old house, winter 2012
|Sun setting at We Are FSTVL 2013
|Watching the sunrise from a plane to Nepal, 2013 (one of the best vantage points!)
|Sunrise as seen from Poon Hill, Nepal, 2013 (during 10-day trek)
|Sun rise a bit later from Poon Hill, 2013
|Back in Colchester - Co-op car park!
|Sun set, taking from patio of my current house
|Dramatic sky over the back garden, current house
|Amazing circular rainbow on holiday in Mauritius, 2013