Today, about 8 p.m., I went for a walk because I haven’t been getting enough exercise, and I didn’t get out enough today. It was a bit chilly, and every now and then there was a drop of rain (which can mean a downpour is imminent), so instead of going to the lake without an umbrella, I wandered around the park and the playlot across the street (“for boys and girls under age 12” — does that mean monsters, horses, and petunias under 12 aren’t allowed? Seems awfully specific).
When I was walking back, I looked up and noticed that, although the sky was overcast, the western horizon must not have been, because sunlight was turning the top of my building and some of the others a bright rose. So I kept walking a bit more, this time on the footpath along Lake Shore Drive between the 55th and 57th Street underpasses. I looked up and saw a quarter-arch rainbow. It was dull at first, but then it brightened to where the red and orange and yellow were glowing and even the blue, green, and indigo were discernible. Then, miraculously, it became a full arch, the entire way across the sky, with one foot in south Chicago and the other fading just before stepping into the lake. It was breathtaking, spellbinding, hypnotizing, wondrous, magical, entrancing — anything description you want to use, it was. And since no one else seemed to be out walking, there was no one else to see it or to point it out to. As the sun got lower, the lake foot glowed so brightly it no longer looked real, while the upper part of the arch, fainter, vibrated against the darkening clouds.
A car on Lake Shore Drive stopped in the right-hand lane. At first I thought it was for engine trouble, but the passenger got out and spanned his cell phone (presumably with camera) across the sky; I suppose he was broadcasting to whomever he’d been talking to. He and his driver must have observed the rainbow. Interestingly, two or three cars stopped and offered to help them. They never noticed what was right in front of them . . .
The rainbow lasted a solid 10–15 minutes, then the top faded until it was a rose strip against the clouds, the southern foot disappeared, and finally the lake foot experienced one last spurt of brilliance before it faded into rose, too.
I think this is the first time I have ever seen a complete rainbow. It was like a gift, an unexpected and rare one.