Sunday, September 5, 2010

Smack in the Middle of a Rainbow


Coming out of Mankato on the way back to the Twin Cities, I came through the most curious weather. Cool and refreshing wind had blown all day as I spent the better part of the afternoon in a state park, thinking about this trip, wondering what it means, wondering what I would do once I got back in the Twin Cities, strangely feeling calm in the midst of all of it. But once I got to Mankato, brooding clouds moved across the sky and brought sporadic bouts of chilly rainfall. I watched one cloud in particular, a columnar white bluff coming across the sky like a snowplow. A fuzzy gray mist hung under it, a sight I knew to be falling rain. By use of my internal geometry, I could see that me and this cloud were bound to meet. And so we did, just as I got out of town and away from places to take cover.

My legs churned and chugged, pushing me, my pack, and the bike up out of the river valley. The chill wind whispered across my sweaty limbs and forehead, shooting a shiver through my timbers. The rain came in large, cold drops that felt strangely refreshing, but I'd spend the whole day trying to get my things dry and I resented this intrusion of sky-borne hydration. The cloud moved upon me, as a wrath following me either to or from the grave. I was just bemoaning my luck of being out of the protective covering of infrastructure when I came to a place in a ravine, under a highway bridge sixty or so feet above the trail.

I stood watching the cloud move across the sky, followed in the west by a dark patch of blue. The setting sun at the western edge of the world cast orange and yellow light askance so that the clouds moved, the rain fell, the sun shone in a dance of vibrancy and color. But it didn't mean much to me at that time. I was aggravated at the inconvenience of getting wet, at the irritation of all of my hard-won dryness being washed away in a single, natural stroke. It was just about that time that it occurred to me that somewhere, it was very likely that someone could see a rainbow. Here I was, smack in the middle of it.

I thought of this and felt humbled--humbled to be so belligerent when in fact the Universe had brought the very symbol of "hope" and "promise" literally right over my head. I'd been wondering all day if what I was doing--turning back from this trek--was right, and here an answer of sorts had come and all I could do was bitch.

As I came out of the ravine through which I was riding, the sky opened out, and the offending cloud, which had passed on a few miles ahead of me, was moving across the prairie to the east. Sure enough, right there was a rainbow, my rainbow, the one under which I 'd stood. I watched it for some time as I rode, until it faded into the twilight surrounding me.