Friday, 4 May 2012

From an email received today

Roaring, Rumbling, Rainbow

By Linda C. Wright
My heart leaps up when I behold
A rainbow in the sky...
~William Wordsworth
"Come visit me in Canada. We'll go to the falls," coaxed my good friend, April. "The Canadian side. I promise you'll see a rainbow."
I adore rainbows. April calls me a rainbow magnet. Since I live in Florida, brief summer showers followed by hot blinding sunshine regularly allow rainbows to grace the suddenly blue sky. I stop to wonder at the beauty of them every time. The opportunity to study a shimmering rainbow cascading over Niagara Falls tugged at my heart. I immediately said yes.
"Besides," I tell April, "I'm part Canadian."
She laughs when I say that.
But I am part Canadian by birth. My grandmother was born in Canada. The family moved to Detroit and continued to regularly make the trek across the bridge to Windsor, Ontario. We spent summers on the Canadian side of Lake Erie frolicking in the ice cold water and dousing our pancakes in pure maple syrup. I hadn't visited Canada in years. Never having seen the falls, this was the perfect time to reconnect with my roots.
"I'm going to see Niagara Falls," I told my seatmate during the flight to Toronto. "And I'm going to see a rainbow."
"There's always a rainbow at the falls," she agreed.
Once in Toronto, April and I spent time doing all things Canadian. I freshened up my high school French by reading the food labels at the grocery store. To escape the cold, we sipped hot, delicious Tim Hortons coffee. I feasted on sinfully rich Nanaimo bars, buying one in every bakery we passed. I embraced everything around me in the not-quite-yet spring of Canada.
April and I planned to make the one-hour drive to Niagara Falls on Sunday. We awoke to a cloudy, grey and drizzly day but even that couldn't dampen my excitement. I was finally headed to the falls to see a Canadian rainbow.
"Don't worry. There's always a rainbow at the falls," April assured me as she drove. "It's how we welcome thousands of visitors to Canada. A sparkling burst of color over the majestic Niagara Falls."
I stared out the window in between the swiping of the windshield wipers.
"Not today. Not a single ray of sunshine is going to make it through those clouds," I whined.
"You've got to have faith," she said, patting my hand.
The car slowly turned the corner. A sweeping vista of water, rushing, pounding, pulsing over piles of rock greeted me. Water flowing from Lake Erie up the Niagara River crashed over the falls before eventually finding its way into Lake Ontario. The sight of this magnificent natural wonder filled me with awe.
April had barely parked the car in its spot when I leaped out, slamming the door behind me. Running across several lanes of traffic, I pulled up my hood, slipped on my gloves and wrapped my scarf a little tighter. I breathed in the mist from the falls, letting it fill my lungs. The sound roared through my ears. The power lit up my soul.
From the Canadian vantage point, the falls are spectacular. All three unique falls in plain view, the flat and straight American Falls, the small and delicate Bridal Veil Falls and the grand and roaring Canadian Horseshoe Falls. Mesmerized, I couldn't take my eyes off the rushing water.
"C'mon. Let's go behind the falls," April suggested when she finally caught up with me.
"You can go behind the falls? How cool is that?" I asked.
The sign read "The Journey Behind the Falls." We paid our admission fee and got in line for the 150-foot elevator ride down. We smiled for the obligatory tourist photo and I couldn't open my wallet fast enough to purchase a picture of April and me standing in front of the falls, photoshopped or not.
My ears popped as we rode in the elevator. Swallowing hard, I couldn't wait for the doors to open. Once below, we wound our way through the dank, cold tunnel. Seeing light ahead of me, I walked toward it. A barricade stopped me from getting near the white light.
"It's frozen." I shivered. "They weren't kidding when they said behind the falls," as I stared at a block of ice the size of a ten-story building. A dull rumble reminded me that water still flowed on the other side, the ice having squashed my rainbow dreams only for the moment.
Once back above the falls April asked, "What do you want to do now?"
"Can we go on the Maid of the Mist?" I asked like an overly excited schoolgirl. "I've always wanted to ride on the Maid of the Mist."
"Look down there," April pointed.
Leaning over the railing I could see the stairs leading down to the dock. Then I looked toward the river to see the steamship icebound.
"Guess the boat can't run through the ice, huh?"
"No. It can't." April answered.
"For sure I'd see a rainbow down there, if only the Maid was running."
"You'll see a rainbow. Don't worry," she reassured me again.
"So far that's not looking too promising."
The falls were all that I had imagined. They left me speechless. But I knew my trip wouldn't be complete without finding the elusive rainbow.
We spent the rest of the day leisurely walking up and down the sidewalk. Every few steps I'd stop and snap more photos. I'd taken over 200 pictures, not wanting to miss a single angle. Every drop of water would be immortalized in the yet to be created, treasured scrapbook of my trip.
As I gazed across the river toward the American side, I couldn't shake the thought that they had a monopoly on rainbows today. Half of me wanted to take the bridge across to see. Half of me wanted to stay right there.
The sun never came out from behind the clouds that day. I tried to pretend the joy of finding a rainbow no longer mattered.
April wrapped her arm around me. "The falls are amazing, eh?"
"More than amazing, they're phenomenal," I answered. "Thanks for bringing me to the Canadian side. It's beautiful."
"I'll go get the car. Stay here and take some more pictures." April left me alone with only my thoughts of the day as my falls experience came to an end.
The falls took on a shimmering golden hue as dusk began to fall. Standing at a spot where the water seemed to flow directly under my feet, I leaned over the railing as far as I dared and took a few more photos. The sound of the car horn jolted me back to the present. I quickly snapped one final shot before heading home.
Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada
"Let's check out my pictures," I said as April drove and I scrolled through the photographs now stored in my digital camera. As the roar of the falls faded into the distance, I carefully studied each one. After several minutes, I came to the last photo. I gasped.
There it was, curving through the smoky mist across the Canadian Horseshoe Falls. In the corner of the last picture I took as the water hurried by.
My rainbow by the falls.
Reprinted by permission of Chicken Soup for the Soul Publishing, LLC (c) 2012. In order to protect the rights of the copyright holder, no portion of this publication may be reproduced without prior written consent. All rights reserved.

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