Featured photo: Peter Saunders from our 7th floor apartment.
Given the downer characteristics of some of my recent posts, I decided to go rainbow this time: Peter took the photo shown above from our balcony a few days ago. As we stood looking together at the late-afternoon cityscape, my heart lifted skyward. Both of us were struck with awe while the doubled ancient sign of good-things-to-come slowly faded and blinked out. For some weeks before this heavenly herald underscored it, our lives had, indeed, been trending toward an easier happiness—albeit the earthy version, the kind that, in Jane Kenyon‘s eponymous poem,
…comes to the monk in his cell.
It comes to the woman sweeping the street
with a birch broom, to the child
whose mother has passed out from drink.
It comes to the lover, to the dog chewing
a sock, to the pusher, to the basketmaker,
and to the clerk stacking cans of carrots
in the night.
It even comes to the boulder
in the perpetual shade of pine barrens,
to rain falling on the open sea,
to the wineglass, weary of holding wine.
My 2021 everyday wonders have come in all colors of the rainbow:
red: the good use Peter and I have made of the bubbling, self-heating, knobbly-bottom (for self-massage) foot bath he gave me for Christmas by giving each other pedicures
orange: our grandchildren’s (albeit socially distanced) presence in our lives: Dante 8, Aliya six weeks shy of 12, and Kanye 13 ¾
yellow: celebrating Peter’s 73rd birthday with a dinner à deux featuring meat pie that I still remember how to make from his mother’s recipe, together with one of the fabulous salads that he makes us for dinner every night
green: the two new and two old granddogs in our family: 1-2 yr old Binx that Adam’s mom, Sandi, adopted from the shelter so that each of them no longer lives alone; Marissa, Adam, and Dante’s (MAD’s) new puppy, Kronos; Callisto, MAD’s dog that is older than Peter and me in dog years; and Newton, Cheryl, Kanye, and Aliya’s (CKAN’s) Smudgie, almost as old as Callisto. (The last two photos are both of Smudgie, one with each grandchild)
blue: My new joy in reading, combined with the graciousness of my friends Kirstin and Shen who, per my nervous recommendation, tackled the first volume of Marcel Proust’s famously daunting seven-volume, 4000+ page novel, In Search of Lost Time, so we could discuss it (below, me studying, surrounded with all things Proust.)
violet: Peter’s and my first Covid shots earlier this week
By now, I have listed enough of my quotidian happinesses to match 6 of the 7 rainbow colors you may have learned in nursery rhymes or through the mnemonic ROY G BIV: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. These colors were assigned to the rainbow by the pioneer of optics, Isaac Newton, while he used a prism to separate sunlight into a color spectrum. However, Newton—a serious student of the occult, which, in the 1600s, was not clearly separated from science—”knew” that his number could not be correct: how could there be 7 seas, 7 days of the week, 7 sins but only 6 colors that blended together to make white light? He looked at each color band more closely, and decided that a seventh shade could be identified in the blue band: between blue and violet, then, he placed indigo.
Interestingly, many modern visual presentations of the rainbow have reverted to 6 colors, omitting indigo—one mundane reason is that a 6-color printing process is cheaper than seven-color one. Another, the difficulty of sourcing the correct colors of fabric for the production of all things rainbow. For example, the most common variant of the Pride rainbow flag in recent years sports 6 colors rather than the original 8. (During the first years of the flag, each item was laboriously made by sewing together the different color strips.)
For reasons that might be occult—in the sense that I love the serendipities of disconnected ideas that magically cluster around the same number or symbol across multiple cultures and centuries—I’ll indulge my sense (à la Isaac Newton) that one more happiness is needed to wrap up this blog post. Hence,
indigo: Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Bubbles”:
Two bubbles found they had rainbows on their curves.
They flickered out saying,
“It was worth being a bubble, just to have held that rainbow thirty seconds.”
February 13, 2021 @ 11:22 am
Gerda, thank you so much for this wonderful post! I love rainbows and bubbles and always have.
My heart is warmed immensely, seeing the photos of the double rainbow and of you and Peter enjoying life.
Russ and I got our first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on Monday. I enjoyed seeing the pictures of your grandchildren and their pets as well. God bless you all bunches! Thanks for brightening my day! Happy Valentine’s Day tomorrow!
February 13, 2021 @ 1:58 pm
Thanks so much for your lovely post, Cheryl. Happy to hear from a fellow bubble/rainbow lover! So great that you and Russ got your first dose. Even though we’ll still have to be careful, life will be so much better once the vaccine kicks in. Have a wonderful year with all of those you love.
February 16, 2021 @ 11:43 am
Thanks, Gerda! I hope you all have a wonderful year too! <3
February 14, 2021 @ 4:12 am
Geniet jou plasings Gerda. Doen so voort. Groete aan Peter.
February 17, 2021 @ 8:23 am
Baie dankie vir jou mooi woorde, Kobus. Dis lekker om te weet dat jy aan ons dink. My en Peter se beste wees vir jou en almal rondom jou.
February 14, 2021 @ 12:40 pm
Ah-ha! At last in this lockdown: happiness! Which your delightful writing brought me too, thank you. I wish I’d seen that double rainbow but perhaps it was a sign from the heavens meant for you and Peter.
That can’t be Aliya?! xoxoxo
February 17, 2021 @ 8:27 am
Thanks, as always, my dearest Shen, for even reading my happy clappy moments and for being an eight color band on my rainbow! It is shocking how can be 10 going on twenty. She is still mostly not into teen things, but oh, she adores dressing up–must have gotten it from her Ouma? But not the ouma-style, thank goodness. So lovely to have you in my life.
February 16, 2021 @ 10:29 am
Thank you Gerda for warming our hearts.
Seeing you and the family photos feels like a beautiful celebration.
Your posts continue to expand our knowledge and remind us how much we miss you.
February 17, 2021 @ 8:28 am
My dearest Riva, so lovely to hear from you in this comment and via text. Sorry I have not been able to call you yet–tried over the weekend, but could not reach you. Will be in touch soon. Love you so much.
February 21, 2021 @ 11:42 am
Two rainbows heralded double joy! Thank you Gerda, jy maak my hart bly…….altyd! Ria xx