Rainbows over Sydney

My work balcony is perfectly situated for rainbow viewing. If the clouds clear on a rainy day a few hours before sunset, they light up the sky to the east. These conditions occurred twice this week and all of my work colleagues piled out onto the balcony to take photos.

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On both days we were treated to double rainbows, the lower one so intensely bright that you could see the different bands of colour quite distinctly. Unfortunately my smartphone doesn’t capture their brilliance.

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Our social media feeds were awash with rainbows, and not only the ones we’d photographed. All over Sydney on Wednesday, people were noticing spectacular skies. Well, no wonder, there were rainbow arches over Sydney icons the Harbour Bridge, and Bondi Beach. They even made the international news. I can’t help wondering if they inspired this week’s WordPress photo challenge …?

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One last blast of colour.

The backdrop for our rainbow views was just the familiar backyards and roofs that we see every day — but they still gave us a few moments of delight.

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Surely there’s a pot of gold over in those rainbow lit suburbs?

Given the prominence of gay marriage on the Australian political agenda recently, many of my gay friends laughingly took the rainbow blitz as a sign of approval from the heavens.

One person suggested the rainbows marked the recent death in Sydney of a man who’d made huge contributions to the HIV response in Australia and overseas. He was a friend of mine, so I liked that idea too. They reminded us of what a treasure he was, during our rainy grey days of sadness.

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We all had to resort to panorama to get the full arch because our balcony is too shallow to get it all in one shot – hence the distortion.

Rainbows are just the momentary convergence of light, air and water, but human beings around the globe and throughout history have given them meaning, from the Aboriginal rainbow serpent creator here on the continent I call home, to the Biblical post-flood rainbow of hope and forgiveness, to the Irish pot of gold, to a positive representation of multiculturalism in South Africa, the ‘rainbow nation’.

The rainbow as a symbol for diversity of gender and sexuality is perhaps the most recent iteration of rainbow symbolism, being only a few decades old.

Common threads among the many, many stories seem to be hope, transcendence, and unity amid diversity, although a quick scan of Wikipedia points toward a some less positive interpretations, such as demons, disease, and ‘divine sanction for war’.

I’m glad my own Anglo-Celtic Christian cultural traditions sit on the happier side of the rainbow spectrum, because it means that every time I see a rainbow, it brings me joy.

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I think there have probably been many other rainbows just outside our window that we’ve missed because of having our noses stuck in our computers and our minds on our work. So, although it feels a little hackneyed to say it, I guess this week’s display has been a reminder that we all need to lift our eyes to the sky more often, and notice life’s rainbows.

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9 thoughts on “Rainbows over Sydney

  1. Marvelous, marvelous job of capturing the brilliance of the colours. Beautiful rainbows indeed and it was great everyone decided to stop work for a while 😀 I love how you tied in this week’s challenge to the symbolism behind rainbows. Rainbows are rare, and fleeting. I’ve heard of South Africa being called the “rainbow nation”. Not too sure what that refers too (pardon my ignorance), but I’m presuming it refers to a diverse nation that has a lot of hope for a better tomorrow…

    • Thanks Mabel. It was very noticeable how many people read meaning into the Sydney rainbows this week so talking about symbolism seemed an obvious way to go with the challenge for me.

      Regarding South Africa, while they do still have lots of problems, they’ve also taken some great steps toward reconciliation post apartheid & the idea of a rainbow nation is a good example that I wish more multicultural countries – like for e.g Australia, could follow.

      • A couple of weeks ago in Melbourne we had two consecutive days of rainbows in the city. Very beautiful as I saw on social. However, no one talked about the symbolism behind them 😦

        It’s good to hear South Africa are doing what they can. Very encouraging to hear.

    • Thanks – it was indeed – especially our view on the second day when the highrise in the distance were all lit up like a magical city.

    • Thanks – as I said, perfect rainbow conditions. I have a Samsung & the consensus is that the camera is better than that on my friends’ iphones.

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