We’ve got rainbows in the kitchen must be time for Thanksgiving. 

On the south side of our house, there’s a big, old picture window in the middle of the living room wall. The top fourth of it is leaded, cut-glass diamonds. I imagine it was somewhat of a frivolous purchase by Great Grandad, but I’ve seen the same window in several old houses, so maybe not. Maybe it’s just the kind of thing you did a hundred years ago to keep the peace when you didn’t get around to building a house until twenty-five years after you built the barn. 

When we first moved in, we didn’t know about the rainbow potential. My Great-Uncle Carl, the previous resident, was serious about his TV watching, so he’d installed a green and white aluminum awning above the window to keep the living room suitably dim. When we ripped it off in the summer of 1976, suddenly rainbows! 

Of course, the reason I had time to fool around with home remodeling in the summer of 1976 was because of an epic drought. I worked on the house during wheat harvest, since I wasn’t needed to haul wheat to the bin. I left the truck in the field all day long and brought it in to empty the paltry few bushels after chores at night. 

But even so...rainbows. 

We live quite far north. As the days shorten, the sun moves south and, in our house, the rainbows move through the living room and dining room, headed for the kitchen. When rainbows shone halfway across the dining room floor, and I was contemplating a soybean harvest that was going to be worse than the wheat, I went with my wife to a doctor’s appointment. I sat in the waiting room reading magazines I couldn’t afford to subscribe to. When my wife came out of the back room, she headed toward the door with a certain smile on her face.   

One might say a glow. 

I got up to follow her. She didn’t say a word, just flashed a pamphlet she was holding that read, if I remember correctly, “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” 

All was not perfect. We’d started the year with nothing, and we were going to end the year with less than that. But the sun did seem to be shining a little brighter, which made the rainbows gleam even more.   

That was over forty years and a lot of Thanksgivings ago - and lots of rainbows. 

Last year wasn’t terrific and we’ve had a run of years like that. Sickness, death, decline, an uncertain world, and a changing climate can make anyone a little edgy. We went a year and a half with almost no rain, and then made it all up in about six weeks, leaving farmers struggling through deep mud and onrushing winter to bring in a harvest that was quite a bit better than expected. It’s all kind of a metaphor for our times – a hard slog through discouraging times ending with a result better than seemed possible. 

Thanksgiving is here and we need to sink deeply into all that means.   

Please remember that while the rainbows may shift and move with the seasons, brighten or dim with the quality of the afternoon light, if you look closely enough, they’re always there. 

Copyright 2021 Brent Olson