Rainbows and Sunshine

Rainbow country

Rainbow over Ashland

I live in Rainbow Country. I have never seen as many rainbows, or as frequently, as I do here at the southern tip of the Rogue Valley. And they’re wide—often one can see a full half-circle rainbow, from one end to the other, arcing across the fields on the far side of the valley. Or perhaps it’s dropping a pot of gold into a pond on the near side while stretching its colors to drop into a grove of trees way over there, that way. It’s remarkable; in fact, most people I know have a love affair with our rainbows. If there’s a big, juicy bow stretched bright across the middle of the day, you know it’s going to be all over Facebook in just a minute. With pictures. It’s cool.

Of course, I’ve seen rainbows all my life. As a kid, I was always excited to see a fraction of a circle of color peaking above the low hillside across the street. I’d run into the house yelling, “Rainbow! There’s a big rainbow!” to anyone who was nearby. I remember rainbows being pretty special and rather rare. So what is it about the Rogue Valley that gives us Rainbow Country? Well, it’s all about the layout and the weather.

Ashland sits at the base of the Siskiyou mountains, with Mount Ashland at its back, toward the south. We face northward, looking out over the black ribbon of I-5, which cuts smoothly down the narrow valley. Grizzly Peak is due north. The expanse of valley spreads east to west. So here we have this long, narrow, tight valley, where mist and sunshine mingle together to demonstrate nature’s physics.

More often than not, the suggestion of a double rainbow, that reflected rainbow of the rainbow, occurs. Sometimes, while watching, the double rainbow will become brighter and brighter, becoming almost as bright as the primary bow. I mean, wow! How cool is that!

So with the sun at our backs, the east/west valley at our feet, and the mountains across the way as a backdrop, everything comes together perfectly to create a canvas for our stunning rainbows. We never know when they’ll appear, but when conditions are right, which they often are in the spring and fall, we are treated to Rainbow Country’s greatest spectacles. And, no surprise, Ashland is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Wildflowers and Spring in Ashland’s Lithia Park

Fairy playground

Fairy playground

I confess… I admit it. I’m not a photographer. I have an old digital Canon that I mostly keep on “auto” setting, and I know how to zoom. That’s about it. But when I hike above Lithia Park, on the trails in the hills above the main park path, I have to take picture every few feet. There’s just so much to see!

In the spring, wildflowers bloom in abundance. They’re mostly tiny–teeny dots of color pushing up between soggy, old, dead leaves and mats of pine needles.

But once I train my eye on them, I see them everywhere! They’re snowy white, royal purple, deep blue, and butter yellow.

They’re smaller than a candy dot and as big as a gumdrop. And when they’re just starting to push up from the cold, damp ground, they signal the promise of thousands more to come.

And then there’s the textures. Oh, my, the textures. From decaying old logs to spongy green moss, the textures of the forest cover it all.

Smooth, rough, soft, scratchy, ribbed, and spiky. The woods and forest floor yield endless textures of nature, slowing my hiking rhythm to a snail’s pace.

Driving home from what turned out to be a pretty leisurely walk through nature’s treats, I pulled over no less than six times to attempt to capture the plethora of blossoming trees. Really, they’re everywhere! Ashland has a short window in the spring when, it seems, everything has flowers pushing through rough, wintery bark.

Yes, Ashland is full of nature’s eye candy in every flavor, if only we slow down long enough to notice. And maybe point and shoot an old camera in hopes of capturing just one taste.