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  • Betty Girardeau

At The End Of The Rainbow


Do you remember the first art project you ever did in grade school? I do. It was a rainbow. I remember, too, being especially excited because, after practicing on the usual newspaper grade paper, the teacher handed out what she called "manila paper" (We thought she called it "vanilla" paper, though and hoped it would smell like ice cream.) for us to draw now our very best rainbows. When finished with these works of art, she would then hang them up to adorn our classroom walls. When we were doing our earlier practice pieces, the teacher had been very specific about the order in which the colors should be added to our curved line: red, yellow, orange, green, blue, violet. Actually, there are seven colors in a real rainbow, but my first grade teacher left out indigo. I suppose that might have been because it was too big a word for little children, or, perhaps, and more likely, it was because there was no indigo crayon in our little boxes. Nevertheless, rainbows were a magic subject for us little artists, and once we knew how to draw and color them, they showed up in many more of our artworks. As adults, the sight of rainbows still excites us. It may be the one thing that we have ever experienced that only carries happy and positive feelings. One writer described rainbows like this, "Rainbows are perhaps the closest things we have to real magic. They appear like beautiful, ghostly apparitions in the sky just as the rain clears and the sun peeks out and, gosh, they make you feel happy, don't they?" Actually rainbows are not "things" at all. They are optical illusions created by the refraction and reflection of sunlight on water particles. No two people, in fact, see the same rainbow because the water droplets are falling being replaced by new ones until there are no more. And maybe that is another reason for them to seem magical to young and old alike. But don't go in search of that elusive pot of gold to make you even more happy. Rainbows are circular. They have no end. The horizon prevents us from seeing their entirety. The jaded among us would say that there is only wet ground at the end of a rainbow. But I would bet that even those people are excited when they see one.

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