November is not the time of year to see the spectacular rainbows that sometimes arc themselves in the immense skyscape above the softly rolling hills of the Palouse, fireworks in breathtaking slow motion. But the other day something happened that brought the majesty of those moments back, and sent me looking for photos. I suddenly felt the need to paint such a scene, and this one is my second attempt. I have a few scraps of 5 x7 watercolor paper, and maybe I’ll see if I can paint a few more every now and then, as part of my “paint or draw something every day” practice. I’ve been doing that with the fire in the masonry stove and like some of those results very much. It’s a way to internalize bright warmth in a month when things turn distinctly gray around here.
I am often told what an inspiration my blog is. Although this truly makes me happy every time I hear it, I guess I’ve also been a little worried lately that I might be giving the impression I am never tired, cranky, discouraged or out of sorts. Not so. Sometimes I even indulge myself in these feelings, although I admit, that indulgence is short-lived because it comes with a simultaneous mental commentary about how silly it is to give in to such feelings when I can also think of so many reasons why they are inaccurate. So I end up laughing at myself, right in the heart of the funk.
Nevertheless, even when I am deep in my curmudgeonly moments, and don’t actively seek something to shift my mood, it often finds me. I don’t know exactly why this is. Perhaps it’s because I am so relentlessly and genuinely drawn to the little things in the world around me that catch my attention and divert it from whatever self-absorbed inner monologue I might be rehearsing inside my head.
Late one afternoon last week, I was taking Romeo out for a walk around sunset. I was not feeling all that well, and was also feeling sorry for myself that it had been taking me so long to get all the way better. Romeo had stopped to inspect a huge pile of leaves in front of an apartment complex. Beyond where we stood, just across a dead end street, there’s a sidewalk going south, and a dirt path going west that leads into the park. We were on our way there. While I stood waiting for Romeo to “leave a message,” I could hear someone coming north on the sidewalk whistling “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.” I was delighted, then impressed, as I recognized the song. It’s not an easy song to whistle. Whoever was doing it was pretty good. I was intensely curious who it was. I couldn’t help smiling, and before long, I couldn’t help singing along. As the whistler got closer to where we were standing under a big tree amidst the fallen leaves, the whistling stopped. And of course I stopped singing to myself. As the whistler came around a hedge that was blocking our view of each other, I saw that it was a young woman. Again, I couldn’t help myself. I blurted out, “Was that you?” and was unable to hide a big smile.
“Yes,” she admitted sheepishly, almost apologetically, as she passed me.
“I was singing with you!!” I exclaimed, as Romeo and I began to walk in the opposite direction.
The biggest smile broke out on her face, and we both left giggling to ourselves. Before long, I heard the whistling of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” start up again. And as we walked the narrow dirt path between the high brown weeds on our way past the baseball diamond and into the park, I started singing along again.
Whatever doleful thoughts I harbored about my lack of energy had sailed away. Once again, just being present in the moment had “cured” me of my doldrums. And I hadn’t even tried. It’s such a plaintively beautiful song. Suddenly I was not the only one in the world who felt its soulful tune and words touch my heart. Somehow I now knew someone I didn’t know. Someone a good 35 years younger than me who was not walking home with earbuds stuffed in her ears to shut out the world. Someone who was whistling a song I grew up with about not letting go of your dreams. The world became a wondrous place again, even if we were both intoning our longing for that “somewhere over the rainbow” on a gray day at the beginning of November. Even if.
I am easily and profoundly altered by such little gifts. And always have been. I’m ever grateful that I am, because they are not really so little. It isn’t easy to paint a rainbow. And it isn’t easy to whistle an old song about one either. Yet somehow, when the time is right, such things are possible.
The biggest blessing of all is that I find it really hard, even ridiculous, to refocus on complaining to myself or anyone else about anything when things like this happen. And they always happen. So there you have it. Somewhere over the rainbow can be right where I am, right here, right now. I just have to notice.