On both of our trips to the British Isles, we’ve had incredible luck with the weather. (We actually seem to have fantastic luck with the weather wherever we go.) England and Ireland are known for being gray and rainy. And although we’ve had more dry days than wet ones when we’ve been there, I’ve never been disappointed by a rainy day in the UK or in Ireland. After all, the only way the countryside can be so wonderfully lush and green is for a lot of rain to fall. Not only that, but we kind of WANT to have appropriately British weather when we’re visiting Britain — otherwise, it feels like we’re kind of missing out on some of the experience.
In addition to making everything vibrantly green, the persistent rain showers in England also seem to create excellent rainbows. We saw several rainbows during our most recent trip (all of them in England, although I have to imagine that Ireland can spawn some impressive rainbows as well — not only because it’s an equally drizzly country, but also because of the ubiquitous folklore and imagery that ties Ireland and rainbows together) but one was particularly outstanding. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was a double rainbow, and the bottom arch was visible across it’s entire length — from the ground, up into the sky and back to the ground again. We were so struck by how vivid and complete it was that we pulled the car over and got out to see. For the first time in my life, I could actually SEE the rainbow’s end (it was at the base of a tree in a cow field not very far from where we were). I’ve always been a bit perplexed by the whole “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” thing, because I’d never before been able to see where a rainbow ended. They have always dissolved far above the ground, leaving a vague sense of their destination. But this one was clear. It was amazing, and it lasted for quite a while (we stopped, stared, exclaimed, gazed at it and took lots of pictures before getting in our car and heading to dinner, and it was still there). As the rain shower which created it marched off down the valley, the rainbow shifted slowly up the hillside, but only lost a bit of its clarity.
We were so impressed that we were still talking about it the next morning at breakfast, and mentioned it to our host, who smiled and gave us a look that clearly said, “Yeah, you’re not from around here.” I guess the perfect rainbows just come along with the verdant hills and the need to carry a raincoat everywhere. Just another amazing thing from that part of the world.