Living way up North can be challenging. My five-year-old could tell you all about it. The other day, I took her with me on one of my picture-hunting tours out into the countryside of Andøya. Before we drove out, she had insisted on playing with a balloon, while I would be taking images.
Find Andøya on the map above. It’s main town Andenes is cutely misspelled. Will there be wind there, you think? Imagine a kid trying to play with a balloon on Andøya.
So, she did not play with the balloon for very long. While it floated away, pushed along the ground by the gusts, I remember thinking how great it was that she had found something else to take up her interest: A beautiful rainbow floating in this stunning Northern Norwegian sunshine-fog-rain-weather, which is so typical for both spring and autumn.
I considered for a second whether to go and explain rainbows to her. The physics behind the phenomenon is beautiful, too. I decided against it and continued fiddling with my camera while she jumped after the rainbow, disappearing behind a ridge all laughter and excitement.
If you are not from Norway’s countryside, please do not judge me; I made nothing of that fact. This was Andøya, after all. About as safe a place as you could dream up.
I continued testing different settings on the camera, struggling to do so in the ever-changing light, and ended up setting up a particular moment right after the clouds would pass over us. During all of this, I kept thinking about that wonderful rainbow in front of me, and how I kept photographing it more or less despite myself. Honestly, I really loved those weird weather patterns on that flat island of ours. I always got a kick out of standing in the middle of them, soaked in weather and light.
If anybody had been there, they would have seen me smile. But that was the thing. Nobody was there.
“I should probably go check on her!” I said.
I wandered around the ridge, humming a tune to myself.
“Where is she?” I asked the wind. No answers. I started running. This wasn’t right.
I shouted her name into the wind, once, twice, three times. No reaction.
I felt every little gust of wind chilling me to the bones. Where would that girl be? I screamed, shouted, cried and ran around like a terrified chicken. At the end, I found her crouched in a little nook behind a rock. I kneeled down and embraced her.
“It’s always running away.” she said. I could see the tears on her cheeks. “Why is it always running away, daddy?”
I took her up and slowly carried her back to where I had set up my camera.
“Yeah. That’s a tough one.” I said. “See, they’re supposed to.”
She sniffed and looked at me as if I had just eaten a raw badger – you know, like a five-year-old girl who cannot believe what her imbecile father had just said.
“It’s true.” I said. “Rainbows live in the raindrops on the other side of the sun from you. When the sun is out, it shines over and all about you. The raindrops are there to show you just how beautiful it is. They show you all the colours when you turn towards them. They like it when you turn towards them.”
“But they don’t like you to reach them. Show, don’t touch! And now, it’s gone proper.” I said and caught another tear on her cheek. “Don’t worry. That’s the thing with rainbows: They come back, always, and anywhere!”
She looked at me with teary eyes, sniffed again and said:
“I know. You told me that last time, remember? Where’s my balloon?”