These rainbows double your pleasure

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

It was in Ireland, quite a few years ago, when, on my grandfather’s farm in County Tipperary, I saw a rainbow. It was an emotional moment. A good omen.

Why, after all, as Irish legend has it, seeing a rainbow is good fortune, because you might find the pot of gold that the leprechauns buried at the rainbow’s end.

But it was in Tucumcari, in the past few rare rainy days, that I saw three rainbows. Well, actually five rainbows, because two of the rainbows were double rainbows. Honest, one arched rainbow and, above it, another.

You might have seen two of them on Thursday afternoon. One nearly arched its band colors on top of Tucumcari Mountain — which would have been quite a sight.

Well, I knew that rainbows are created by the white light of the sun hitting the raindrops, which act as prisms, revealing the many colors, many wave lengths, in the white light.

Curiosity took me to the Internet to learn more. My double rainbows come to find out are called secondary rainbows by the experts; the light is refracted twice within the same raindrop. Result: Two rainbows but rainbows in which the colors, from the top to the bottom of the rainbow, are reversed or inverted.

I also learned that the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is truly a legend, a myth. Because rainbows have no end. They are circular. It’s just that we can’t see the whole rainbow because the horizon gets in our way. If we were lucky enough to see a rainbow from an airplane, we’re supposed to be able to see the whole circular rainbow.

But the rainbows as we see them are impressive enough. And while they may not bring “good luck,” they certainly make us feel good.

And they can’t help but make us recall the song from “The Wizard of Oz,” sung by Judy Garland.


Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue, And the dreams that you dare to dream. Really do come true.

And another verse:

Somewhere over the rainbow Bluebirds fly. Birds fly over the rainbow. Why then, oh why can’t I?

Well, that beautiful song from “The Wizard of Oz” isn’t the only verse that celebrates rainbows. Shakespeare and a dozen or more writers, whose names are almost as well known as Shakespeare’s, also wrote poems about rainbows. One even linked rainbows with poetry:

Poetry is a phantom script telling how rainbows are made – and why they go away

That was Carl Sandburg.

Now I could quote from British poet William Words-worth, but instead I’ll say, “Wordsworth … what a wonderful name for a writer” and get back to remembering the three, no five, rainbows that have come our way … in the skies over Tucumcari.

Chelle Delaney is associate publisher for the Quay County Sun. Contact her at 461-1952 or by e-mail: